By Shubhra Agrawal

Multinational tech companies across the globe are now looking to exploit the untapped field of artificial intelligence. Amazon’s release of Echo, an internet-connected speaker that listens and responds is one step taken in this direction.

Although the release of Kindle was a success, Amazon has always focused on marketing speedy deliveries of physical content. The company’s hardware products have been unpredictable and inconsistent.

The characteristic features of Echo

Echo

Amazon launched an artificial intelligence enabled speaker called Echo. | Source: Inverse

Tech markets were thus caught by surprise when Echo was released in 2014. The speaker came with a talking female virtual assistant, Alexa and was primarily marketed as a Bluetooth speaker. Echo’s earliest features included a voice recognition system which helped in setting alarms, weather forecasts and to-do lists. Ever since Echo has been updated with a range of interesting features: it can now be used to purchase items from Amazon and control smart light bulbs. Echo is limited to doing things that use the IFTTT automation service but the things that it can do is growing. Echo will soon be incorporated in the Smart InstaView refrigerator, manufactured by LG. An instruction given to Echo “We need ice” and the ice maker in the fridge will be turned on.

According to tech analyst Adam Simon, voice control is the “way of the future.”

The concept of voice-controlled gadgets that use artificial-intelligence-powered assistants is still being worked on, but we already have big players in the market.

Google has Google Now, Apple released Siri and Microsoft 10.0 now comes with Cortana pre-installed. Google Now has been combined with Shield, the media streaming device developed by Nvidia. Users can display photos on the TV screen via a voice command. Apple’s own voice assistant Siri, is also a major competitor. It has now been released in collaboration with Netatmo for controlling smoke detectors and Chamberlain garage door openers.

The company also seems to have hit the jackpot with Echo and Alexa.

Amazon has brilliantly executed its strategy and established partnership 35 companies. This has enabled Echo to have an upperhand over its competitors. Google brought about the Android operating revolution by giving away Android for free to mobile phone manufacturers. Amazon is exploiting first movers advantage by distributing Alexa for free. The company also seems to have hit the jackpot with Echo and Alexa.

Future Focus

It is certain that voice-controlled gadgets are going to replace the household commodities at home.

However, capturing the market share will be an uphill task for Amazon – Amazon does not have a global presence like Google and Microsoft – the online retailer has yet to establish itself in countries like Scandinavia, the Middle East or even Africa. Alexa is not customer friendly and some of this implementations really difficult to use. The voice control feature is relatively a new one, and a vague concept for the masses. For the technology to have a successful run, Amazon will have to think of a creative marketing strategy to convince many who are sceptical about the usefulness of the device. It is certain that voice-controlled gadgets are going to replace the household commodities at home. The market of smart homes is a new one and full of possibilities. Whether Amazon manages to obtain a dominating market share, or an existing global Multinational company rushes in – only time will tell.


Featured Image Courtesy: The Austin Space
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Posted by The Indian Economist

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