Exciting times for Amazon Alexa!
- Alexa has crossed over 3,000 skills in the US Skill Store, up from 1,000 in June;
- Alexa has just started shipping in the UK and is coming soon to Germany too. Echo and Echo Dot were just made available in the UK, whereas in Germany they are available by invitation for those who want to help shape Alexa as she evolves—the devices will start shipping next month.
- Amazon has also announced a new Echo Dot, enabled with new Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) which allows devices to determine which device a user is talking to (meaning that only one will respond, when multiple devices hear the user). The Dot will increase the number of devices Alexa can talk to in the home, creating an innovative customer experience. It will retail for £49.99 and Echo for £149.99.
Here are 2 neat little YouTube videos showing Alexa in action.
In this context, Amazon is bringing their Alexa training events to Europe in October. Hello Alexa London is on Monday 10th October.
- Developers, engineers, QA/testers and anyone who wants to learn how to build skills can participate in the full-day agenda from 8:30am – 4:30pm (+ Happy Hour afterwards!)
- Business development, strategy and planning, VUX/UX /VUI, account teams, producers and project management professionals can participate in the Alexa Business Development for Agencies session later in the day from 3pm – 4:30pm (and then of course join the Happy Hour!). They can also join the breakfast session, Welcome to Alexa (a 45-minute keynote) and Hello Alexa (a 1-hour session on the basics of creating a skill: what goes into the design, build, test, publish) from 8:30am – 10:45am.
- Click here to register (although the event is already sold out by now!) and hope to see you there!
I am really excited at how ubiquitous speech recognition is becoming! It was already ubiquitous as we were dragging it around on our smartphones (Apple SIRI, Google Now), but now it’s penetrated our homes too, crossing over work/personal/family lives. The future is omni-channel but unimodal?!
I just found out about the new venture of my colleagues, Ahmed Bouzid and Weiye Ma, and I’m all excited and want to spread the word!
They came up with the idea of a Wearable and hence Ubiquitous Personal Voice Assistant, XOWi (pronounced Zoe). The basic concept is that XOWi is small and unintrusive (you wear it like a badge or pin it somewhere near you) but still connects to your smartphone and through that to all kinds of apps and websites for communicating with people (Facebook, Twitter, Ebay) and controlling data and information (selecting TV channels, switching the aircon on). Moreover, it is completely voice-driven, so it is completely hands- and eyes-free. This means that it won’t distract you (if you’re driving, reading, working) and if you have any vision impairment or disability, you are still completely connected and communicable. So, XOWi truly turns Star Trek into reality! The video below explains the concept:
The type of application context is exemplified by the following diagram.
And here is how it works:
Ahmed and Weiye have turned to Kickstarter for crowdfunding. If they manage to get $100,000 by 21st November, XOWi will become a product and I will get one for my birthday in March 2014! 😀 Join the Innovators and support the next generation in smart communicators!
After the extensive TEDxSalford report, and the TEDxManchester Best-of, it’s about time I posted the YouTube video of my TEDxManchester talk!
TEDxManchester took place on Monday 13th February this year at one of the iconic Manchester locations – and my “local” – the Cornerhouse. Among the luminary speakers were people I have always been admiring, such as the radio Goddess Mary Anne Hobbs, and people I have become very close friends with over the years – which has led me to an equal amount of admiration, such as Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden to most of us). You can check out their respective talks, as well as some awesome others, in my TEDxManchester report below.
My TEDxManchester talk
I spoke about the weird and wonderful world of Voice Recognition (“Voice Recognition FTW!”): from the inaccurate – and far too often funny – simple voice-to-text apps and dictation systems on your smartphones, to the most frustrating automated Call Centres, to the next generation, sophisticated SIRI and everything in-between. I explained why things go wrong and when things can go wonderfully right. The answer is “CONTEXT”; the more you have of it , the more accurate and relevant the interpretation of user intention will be, and the more relevant and impressive the system reaction / reply will be.
Here is finally my TEDxManchester video on YouTube.
And below are my TEDxManchester slides.