Cook with Alexa, Joule, and Facebook Messenger

Alexa can help you cook with a high-tech piece of kitchen equipment; Digital Trends reports, “Amazon’s Alexa Can Be Your Extra Hands in the Kitchen with ChefSteps’ Joule.” Alexa’s partner here, Joule, is a computer-controlled heating cylinder that, combined with a vessel of water, can cook sous-vide style. One can control Joule with voice commands through Alexa, and now one can use Facebook Messenger to perform precision cooking. Remotely. Writer Lulu Chang notes:

[ChefSteps] will watch how its customers use the device with Alexa and expand skills and tasks from the feedback. They will be training the Alexa skill set how to cook steak and other specific foods.

Sounds great. But will Joule automatically turn off when the cat knocks it off the counter?

Cynthia Murrell, March 8, 2017

The Sellers Guide to Winning over Amazon Alexa

The article titled The Complete Guide to Amazon Alexa SEO on Search Engine Journal positions Amazon as ahead of the smart home curve with their digital assistant, Alexa. The bulk of the article is dedicated to helping third-party sellers improve their search rank so that Alexa chooses their product. Of course, Alexa can help you purchase something on Amazon, and even recommend specific brands and products based on the keywords she is given. The article states,

Amazon has already confirmed that Amazon’s Choice is the program that determines which products Alexa purchases for users. While there is currently no option to submit a product to the Amazon’s Choice program, the company has revealed some of the requirements for being chosen. We know that the product needs to be available via Prime through the Fulfillment by Amazon or through the Seller Fulfilled Prime program to be eligible… Amazon also looks at price, rating, reviews and shipping speed.

Other important markers include sellers that have a history of buyers. Conversion rates also play into this in the Amazon algorithm, and the article details the best way to send potential buyers to Amazon when they are ready to make a purchase. As far as SEO, the best practices include using images, following Amazon’s title formula, and the inclusion of relevant keywords. Read the full article to get more tips on how to strategically optimize your Amazon page.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 6, 2017

Alexa Business Model About More Than Shopping Revenue

Amazon’s CEO dismisses the notion that Alexa is all about cashing in on an ever present, voice-activated shopping app, we’re told in Yahoo’s article, “Jeff Bezos Says We Have it All Wrong About Amazon’s Alexa.” Bezos asserts their priority is to explore the potentials of voice– playing music, controlling appliances, etc. Writer Matt Weinberger observes:

As people build more ‘skills’ for Alexa, they’re still working out how and where it can be useful. … Still, Bezos’ comments shake up the conventional wisdom on Alexa’s role in Amazon’s grand strategy.

As Bezos notes, (unless reordering) shopping really requires some sort of screen. Our question: is he sincere, or attempting to misdirect the competition? There are rumors Echo may be about to grow a touch screen.

Cynthia Murrell, March 2, 2017

A Nosy Butler for You

Amazon’s Alexa is yet to make any money, but it surely is assimilating humongous amount of Big Data of its customers, and probably is eavesdropping more than you expected.

CNET in an article titled Alexa Will Talk You into Loving Amazon says:

Amazon isn’t seeing any profit from Alexa or the Echo smart speaker that houses the virtual butler because the company keeps plowing massive investments into the voice software.

This is not surprising for a company like Amazon as the primary intent of Alexa was never meant to be a private virtual assistant. The aim was to turn users of Alexa into loyal customers that will help Amazon sell more. In the process, Amazon also collects a lot of personal information about the user, which the company ultimately will use for various purposes.

Technically, Amazon Echo powered by Alexa is a smart device, and it would not take dubious actors to figure out that it easily can be turned into a listening post. As a matter of fact, it would become even easier for people with right skill sets to start listening to your private conversations without bothering about placing listening devices or mobile vans outside your home.

As Michael R. Levin, C-Founder, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners says in the article:

Amazon’s real goal, is introducing you to Alexa and placing her in as many places in your life as possible. That’s assuming you’re not weirded out by having microphones around you that are always listening for the word Alexa.

Companies like Vizio have already been fined for collecting customer information illegally through their smart TVs. Amazon is not far behind. However, how far the rot goes, only time can tell.

Vishal Ingole, February 28, 2017

Amazons Alexa Sees Rapid Adoption Among Companies

Tech companies are rapidly adopting voice command tech, and Amazon’s Alexa seems to be winning the race.

A news article on Investor titled Amazon Alexa Dominates Voice-Command Tech at CES 2017 reveals:

At CES 2017, numerous companies announced that they are using Amazon’s Alexa voice-response technology to control their devices with spoken commands.

Though Apple with Siri and Google with Google Voice were one of the early adopters of voice-based tech assistants, Amazon with Alexa has taken a substantial lead.

One of the reasons for Alexa’s large scale adoption can be attributed to the fact that it has been released to third-party developers so that they can integrate Alexa into their smart devices. Interestingly, Google used a similar strategy to gain a stronghold on the mobile OS market.

Amazon no more is just an online retailer. Matter of fact, with Alexa, Amazon will be able to create an army of loyal customers that will be hard to match.

Vishal Ingole, February 23, 2017

Samsung Bixby a Versatile Linguist

 The Galaxy S8’s built-in personal assistant, Bixby, will lead the AI personal-assistant field in terms of the number of languages supported, according to Trusted Reviews’ article, “Samsung Could Trump Google with this Galaxy S8 Feature.” Not only Google stands to be outdone– the S8 assistant will interact in eight languages, which is seven more than Amazon’s English-only Alexa currently supports. (Reportedly, German, Chinese, and perhaps other languages are in Alexa’s near future.)

Bixby, rumor has it, is based on tech Samsung acquired when it bought Viv Labs last year. Based in San Jose, California, that company was founded in 2012 by three of the folks who’d developed Apple’s Siri.

English, Korean and Chinese will all be on board from the start, as will up to five other languages (via SamMobile). By way of comparison, Google Assistant is still only available in five languages (English, Hindi, German, Japanese and Portuguese)

 And the language race is on. This is but one aspect of the competition. Will Amazon counter Samsung’s AI precociousness by making its own microwaves and ovens for Alexa to work with? And what of Samsung’s plans to connect Bixby to appliances and wearable tech? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, February 23, 2017