Amazon’s Powerful Alexa Artificial Intelligence Engine Has Learned 1000 Skills

We’re not sure that many people expected great things to come from Amazon’s Echo speaker when it was announced back in late 2014. After all, a voice-activated speaker seemed like a superfluous gadget in our increasingly crowded digital lives. However, Echo, which is powered by the Alexa engine, has become one of Amazon’s most popular hardware products and has spawned the Dot and Tap. Even the latest generation Fire TV taps into the Alexa engine.

Developers have flocked to the platform, plugging in their services and apps to make Echo even more useful for its owners. Today, you can hail an Uber ride, order a pizza (or two) from Dominoes, or even access your CapitalOne banking information using the sound of your voice. As of today, Amazon says that Alexa has over 1,000 third-party skills that have been added to its repertoire.

“With every new skill, Alexa gets smarter, giving developers a new way to delight their customers with voice-enabled experiences,” said Amazon today in a statement.

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It’s not just Amazon’s first-party hardware that can take advantage of Alexa; third-party devices can also leverage the platform and tinkerers have already showcased their ability to build around Alexa. And as we’ve recently seen, Alexa can even be incorporated into your web browser, which greatly expands its accessibility.

"Today, we have a vibrant community of tens of thousands of developers who are learning about the service," said Alexa Director Rob Pulciani. “Bringing useful and innovative skills to every aspect of Alexa customers’ lives, and introducing their own users to the magic and simplicity of hands-free, voice-driven interactions.

“We’re excited about the 1,000 skills that are already available, and can’t wait to see what developers create with the next ten thousand.”

The popularity of Amazon Echo and Alexa has resulted in a number of me-too devices over the past few months. LG unveiled its SmartThinQ home automation appliance (which also happens to double as a speaker) in late December. And more recently, Google announced its Google Home voice-activated Wi-Fi speaker that is also a digital assistant. And we can’t forget that Apple is reportedly working on its own Echo competitor with built-in facial recognition.