If you have an Alexa or Assistant-enabled device in your home, it’s likely that you’ve asked it a question and gotten the generic response back “I’m sorry, but I can’t help with that right now” or something similar. Well, Alexa soon will use context to help better understand your commands through conversation.
This is a huge breakthrough in technology, as it’s something that humans do naturally. It’s easy if someone gets the wording almost right when talking to you, and your brain fixes the sentence mid-conversation. However, technology has yet to be able to understand conversational speech. This type of advancement with Alexa would make it one of the best smart assistants around.
Alexa and Conversational Communication
During the beta phase of Amazon testing this new service, they were able to get the system to automatically learn some phrases. Things like “Play ‘Good for What’” was automatically understood as “Play ‘Nice for What’” by Drake, which would be an easy misconception if you forget the name of the song. Just by being able to automatically understand something like that, Alexa could soon understand what you mean instead of what you say, which is huge for me.
Where can Alexa go from here
Music is just the start for what Alexa can do here. Amazon is focusing on music right now because it’s one of the areas that people mess up the most when giving a command, but there are other areas where this skill can easily be used.
Name-free interactions are another area that Amazon is expanding here. You’ll be able to use a phrase like “Alexa, get me a car” and the assistant won’t make you name a specific ride-sharing service to get a car from. This could also be used in other areas, allowing you to no longer specify a service or skill to use when saying specific commands.
Another area that Alexa is going to become smarter in is actual conversational skills. If you say “What’s the weather in Seattle?”, then later say “How about Boston”, Alexa will know that you’re still talking about the weather. You could then go on to ask “Any good restaurants there?” and Alexa will still know you’re talking about Boston, since that’s the last city you talked about.
This finally will make Alexa more conversational and will help out with commands across the platform. I’m excited to see where Amazon takes Alexa from here, and how other people implement similar technologies.
Source: Alexa Developer Blog
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