Sunday, January 8, 2017

"Alexa, How was the Consumer Electronics Show?"

  • Last week, as thousands of companies displayed their latest products in Las Vegas, comments from media outlets included:
  • WIRED - “Alexa Just Conquered CES. The World Is Next – You can’t walk the sprawling floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center without tripping over a speakeran appliance , or even a robot or two that supports Alexa. Amazon’s voice assistant is clearly the darling of CES 2017.”
  • Wall Street Journal – “Amazon’s talking, helping, sometimes wisecracking virtual assistant became a hit in 2016, built into the company’s line of Echo countertop speakers. At the big CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas this week, she started taking over all kinds of other gadgets.”
  • Billboard - “Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa is shaping up to be a regular fixture at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), kicking off Thursday in Las Vegas, with the tech … in products ranging from power switches and vacuums to smart speakers for kids.”
  • Bloomberg - “Amazon has been partnering with prominent brands to rapidly expand Alexa’s reach. Echo users can order a pizza from Domino’s or check their balances on a Capital One credit card. In December, Wynn Las Vegas and Amazon announced plans to equip all 4,748 rooms in the resort with the Echo, enabling guests to control lightsroom temperaturedrapery and televisions via voice commands.”
  • Separately cover of The Economist stated “Now we’re talking – Voice computing Comes of Age”, with commentary including  ”Creative and truly conversational computers able to handle the unexpected are still far off. Artificial-intelligence (AI) researchers can only laugh when asked about the prospect of an intelligent HALTerminator or Rosie (the sassy robot housekeeper in “The Jetsons”). Yet although language technologies are nowhere near ready to replace human beings, except in a few highly routine tasks, they are at last about to become good enough to be taken seriously. They can help people spend more time doing interesting things that only humans can do. After six decades of work, much of it with disappointing outcomes, the past few years have produced results much closer to what early pioneers had hoped for.”

  • Alexa and other digital assistants, such as Microsoft CortanaApple Siri, and Google Assistant will facilitate the creation of new classes of applications in many markets. 
  • Concerns about the use of these services  include 1) increased exposure to cyber-crime, 2) erosion of privacy and 3) displacement of jobs.
  • As clever as these solutions seem, the market is still at an early stage of evolution.


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