Alexa: The New Amazon Innovation
Every business decision follows the “flywheel” philosophy which defines the price to attract more customers and the way to increase sales. The flywheel is the greatest encapsulation of Amazon’s double ambitions: being always focused on customers and becoming the conqueror of an innovative trading system in the world.
Moonshot projects are risky and unthinkable plans to create a combination of incremental innovations that make the company leader in the market, surpassing competitors. This kind of innovation can take many shapes like artificial intelligent and internet of things. Amazon is one of the main companies to develop Moonshot projects as autonomous drones flying that can ship out packages on demand and Alexa.
Thanks to the electronic components supplier, that provide electronic parts, companies develop innovation technologies through the Moonshot projects.
What is Alexa?
Alexa is a virtual assistant, able to manage different functions such as connection and control of many smart devices with WI-Fi, ZigBee and Bluetooth system. It is equipped with voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, and other real-time information, such as news. Alexa regulates numerous smart devices through a home automation mechanism.
It is possible to active the device using vocal system (like Echo) or pushing a button through Amazon mobile app, that is currently available only in English, German and Japanese.
There are three different models:
- The first generation is Echo Plus, a cylindrical device (235 x 84 x 84 mm - 954 grams) with the controls on the side. The sound spreads like 360° thanks to 7 microphones.
- The second generation is Echo Show, a personalized and compact speaker (148,5 x 88 x 88 mm – 820 grams). It has similar sound functions like Echo Plus but it hasn’t smart home hub and ZigBee support.
- The third generation is Echo Spot, smaller than the second one (104 x 97 x 81 mm – 419 grams) with compact and spherical design. It has 4 microphones, a frontal and round display useful to read the text of the music on Amazon music, consult the calendar, send text message, videocall and communicate from different rooms. The connectivity includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but not ZigBee like Echo Show.
It is possible to use Alexa with an existing account or through separate subscription.
The Alexa model consents, thanks to “Routines” mechanism, to close the lock of main door, turn off TV and lights, read weather forecast and set up the ignition of coffee machine. It also plays music, provides information, delivers news and sports scores and allows Prime members to order products they've ordered before. It updates through the cloud automatically and learns all the time.
What can you ask Alexa?
There are many skill categories in the “Skills section” of the app:
- Connected Car;
- Food & Drink;
- Travel & Transportation;
- Music & Audio;
- Smart home, and plenty more.
What apps and services work with Alexa?
There are many companies collaborating with Alexa.
The most important ones are:
- Just Eat: Get Alexa to order a take away from restaurants.
- Skyscanner: allows users to ask Alexa for flight dates and prices.
- Spotify: Users request songs, artists or playlists through Alexa.
- Philips Hue: Controlling Hue lights by asking Alexa.
Alexa doesn’t appear only for the private and domestic use but might have future B2B prospects. It allows companies to join conference calls, schedule meeting rooms and calendars.