Virtual assistants are everywhere at CES this year – but one speaks louder than the rest. Amazon’s Alexa has popped up in a bewildering list of devices including fridges, cars and robots.
Manufacturers are clearly interested in making their appliances voice-operable, and many see Alexa as a great way to do this.
But having Alexa also allows the appliances to gain capabilities, such as streaming music and turning smart lights on and off.
How did Alexa come out on top and how will it benefit Amazon?
The firm was quick to notice the potential of voice control following the rise of smartphone apps that could interact with appliances, answers tech analyst Dinesh Kithany at IHS Technology.
Manufacturers are able to design new “skills” for the assistant – meaning the AI is not limited to what Amazon has built in.
Alexa can, with a quick bit of programming, be adapted to lock car doors or tell you when your washing machine’s cycle will finish.
Perhaps this is how Amazon has cornered so much of the market – by explicitly designing a flexible AI that allows companies to implement it as they see fit.
Over the last seven years, the world has witnessed the rapid proliferation of Google’s Android operating system – now in more smartphones than any other OS by far, as well as many TVs, watches and computers.
Part of this meteoric rise is down to the fact that Google gives Android away for free to device manufacturers – just like Amazon is doing with Alexa.
Despite the search giant having a long history of voice recognition research, it has only just started promoting its own Google Assistant to third parties. That gives Amazon first-mover advantage.