People who were lucky enough to watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in the 1980’s are familiar with the technological innovations for the future. The film had a 24th century setting with 3D printers, visors with artificial lights, virtual reality simulator “holodeck” and the supercomputer that has the capability to locate people, open doors and retrieve answers to highly complicated questions.
Amazon has purchased a version of the supercomputer, a few centuries than was predicted in Star Trek. In an interview with Fortune last July, David Limp said that the idea of an all-knowing machine with access to most of the world’s information has captured his imagination when it saw it on TV.
Amazon decided to call the device Alexa, a shorter name for Alexandria. The device was primarily designed to work with a suite of wireless speakers made by Amazon and called Echo, Echo Dot and Tap. The possibilities for the device are limitless. Alexa is described as a smart personal assistant that can play your favourite song, read you a paperback novel and dictate a recipe while you are cooking. Alexa can also learn new skills from third party developers who want to integrate Alexa into their products.
During the first few months of 2106, 135 skills were designed for Alexa but this year, Alexa can do 7,000 skills. Alexa can call an Uber for you, order your pizza, check your bank balance, control the TV, measure carbon monoxide emissions and buy your coffee.
It is also very interesting that Alexa has turned from an experimental device into a fascinating household fixture. This is surprising given the track record of Amazon when it comes to hardware. Alexa’s success may be based on luck but something about the future feel of the device including convenience and ease has captivated the attention of consumers triggering dozens of Alexas in homes.
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