Amazon will now enable the unparalleled opportunity to third-party companies to access the core artificial intelligence underlying its Alexa digital assistant, a first for the AI platform of the company.
While Amazon has encouraged businesses to acquire Alexa skills and enables almost any consumer electronic device manufacturer to implement Alexa into a compatible product, the e-commerce giant has not approved the fundamental AI technology for use in other assistant-like goods. The latest offering is called Alexa Custom Assistant by Amazon, and it begins with an emphasis on the automotive industry.
Amazon is just doing it to enable not only carmakers but any business with a need for a virtual voice assistant to have more influence over the experience of the software. This will allow businesses to develop their own wake words and personalized voices and capabilities that Amazon claims will “coexist” with Alexa as it is expected to function today. This gives Amazon the additional advantage of getting its apps installed directly into cars for the auto industry.
“It is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive to create an intelligent assistant. Also, the pace of innovation and change is accelerating, and assistants are always developing and becoming more intelligent, requiring major ongoing investments.”In a blog post, the company discusses. “The Alexa Custom Assistant addresses this challenge by enabling businesses to leverage the world-class technology stack of Alexa to build their smart assistant without any of the investment, long development cycles, and materials to support and maintain it from scratch over time.”
Amazon says businesses will have access to customized wake words that use “the same state-of-the-art method” used to create new wake words for Alexa. With the support of Amazon’s voice science experts, businesses may develop their unique voices for the assistants that will help handle the recording process and the algorithms based on machine learning to build up the voice library.
For companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, the screens and tech experiences inside cars have proved to be a ripe opportunity. But only the former two tech companies have mobile operating systems of their own that allow plug-in platforms like CarPlay from Apple and Android Auto from Google. Although the Echo Auto platform of Amazon can be accessed through a mobile app or you connect into your car via a dongle, it’s not as smooth as the competition.
Now it is trying to better align Alexa as a built-in solution in environments that may not require a phone at all, bypassing any need to directly compete with Apple and Google. This is how Amazon has tactically operated around its disadvantage on mobile phones, to carve out a dominant position in the smart home where Siri and Google Assistant rule divine.
Car manufacturer Fiat Chrysler, which has had an existing relationship with Amazon to integrate some of its new tech, such as Amazon Fire TV-powered screens, into its cars, is the first company that has agreed to create its Alexa-based assistant. There was no disclosure of the financial terms of any agreement between Amazon and FCA, and it is not clear if either Amazon is going to charge car manufacturers to licence the AI technology instead of freely distributing it.
Alexa Custom AI will be Affordable
Nonetheless, Amazon also says its goals are to give all businesses, not just car manufacturers, a faster, affordable, and less complicated way to create their own voice experiences that feel tailor-made, rather than just strapping on an integration with a third-party service.
Alexa Custom Assistant also allows the personalised AI products to remain in control of it and dictate specific feature information, while Alexa can handle more particular app-related requests such as music playback and directions. “For example, if a person requests Alexa to roll down a car window, or how to fix a device, the query will be redirected to the brand’s assistant. The request will be routed to Alexa if a customer asks the brand’s assistant to play an audio book,” the blog reads.
Amazon says that Alexa Custom Assistant will be available to car manufacturers in the US and Canada, and also in Australia, Austria, Germany, Brazil, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, starting today.