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Amazon Alexa

 Alexa is the Amazon intelligent voice-control agent. It is a cloud based vocal service. To take advantage of Alexa, Amazon offers voice products which are headless devices with no face or UI. For instance : Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Tap. Alexa is Amazon’s Voice Service, accessed through Amazon Echo. After the set up process, you simply say the word ‘Alexa’ and Echo will light up and Alexa will respond. You can change this 'wake word' to either 'Amazon' or 'Echo'. Alexa can help you with music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, as well as providing weather, traffic and other real-time information.We develop skills according to your customized needs. You can think of automating a process, simplifying a structure or improving access. The key to a great Alexa skill is simplicity and innovation.

 

What’s a skill?

 

We provide Alexa Skills needed for voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audio books, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system. Users are able to extend the Alexa capabilities by installing "skills" (additional functionality developed by third-party vendors, in other settings more commonly called apps such as weather programs and audio features). Alexa skills are like apps. You can enable and disable skills, using the Alexa app or a web browser, in the same way that you install and uninstall apps on your smart phone or tablet. Skills are voice-driven Alexa capabilities. You can add Alexa skills to your Echo to bring products and services to life. You can view available skills and enable or disable them using your Alexa app.

Where do I find my skills?

 

You'll find all the skills on your Alexa app. If you're looking for the EDF Energy ALexa Skill to complete the account linking process, type 'EDF Energy' in the search box. You can then follow the account linking process. Account has been linked, but can't find the EDF Energy Alexa skill? In your Alexa app visit 'My Skills' and search for 'EDF Energy' there.

How does Alexa work?

 

Alexa is built based on natural language processing, a procedure of converting speech into sounds, words, and ideas.

i) Alexa first records your speech. Because interpreting sounds takes up a lot of computational power, the recording of your speech is sent to Amazon’s servers to be analyzed more efficiently.

ii) Amazon breaks down what you said into individual sounds. It then consults a database containing various words' pronunciations to find which words most closely correspond to the combination of individual sounds.

iii) It then identifies key words to make sense of the tasks and carry out corresponding functions. For example, if Alexa notices words like "weather" or "temperature", it would open the weather app.

iv) Amazon’s servers send the information back to your device and Alexa may speak. If Alexa needs to say anything back to us, it would go through the same process described above, but in reverse order.

Functions

 

Alexa offers weather reports provided by Accuweather and news provided by TuneIn from a variety of sources including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN. Additionally, Alexa-supported devices stream music from the owner's Amazon Music accounts and have built-in support for Pandora and Spotify accounts.Alexa can play music from streaming services such as Apple Music and Google Play Music from a phone or tablet. Alexa can manage voice-controlled alarms, timers, and shopping and to-do lists, and can access Wikipedia articles.Alexa devices will respond to questions about items in the user's Google Calendar. Alexa's question answering ability is partly powered by theWolffarm Language. When questions are asked, Alexa converts sound waves into text which allows it to gather information from various sources. Behind the scenes, the data gathered is then parsed by wolfarm's technology to generate suitable and accurate answers. As of November 2016, the Alexa Appstore had over 5,000 functions ("skills") available for users to download, up from 1,000 functions in June 2016. As of a partnership with fellow technology company, Microsoft's AI Cortana became available to use on Alexa enabled devices as of August 2018, Amazon rolled out a new "Brief Mode," wherein Alexa would begin responding with a beep sound rather than saying, "Okay," to confirm receipt of a command.

Music

 

Alexa supports a multitude of subscription-based and free streaming services on Amazon devices. These streaming services include: Prime Music, Amazon Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Audible, Pandora, and Spotify Premium. However, some of these music services are not available on other Alexa-enabled products that are manufactured by companies external of its services. This unavailability also includes Amazon's own Fire TV devices or tablets.

Alexa is able to stream media and music directly. To do this, Alexa's device should be linked to the Amazon account, which enables access to one's Amazon Music library, in addition to any audiobooks available in one's Audible library. Amazon Prime members have an additional ability to access stations, playlists, and over two million songs free of charge. Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers also have access to a list of millions of songs.

Amazon Music for PC allows one to play personal music from Google Play, iTunes, and others on an Alexa device. This can be done by uploading one's collection to My Music on Amazon from a computer. Up to 250 songs can be uploaded free of charge. Once this is done, Alexa can play this music and control playback through voice command options.

Messaging and calls

 

There are a number of ways messages can be sent from Alexa's application. Alexa is able to deliver messages to a recipient's Alexa application, as well as to all of their Echo devices that are both supported and associated with their Amazon account. Alexa is able to send typed messages only from Alexa's app. If one sends a message from an associated Echo device, it will be sent as a voice message. Alexa cannot send attachments such as videos and photos.

For households with more than one member, one's Alexa contacts are pooled across all of the devices that are registered to its associated account. However, within Alexa's app one is only able to start conversations with its Alexa contacts.When accessed and supported by an Alexa app or Echo device, Alexa messaging is available to anyone in one's household. These messages can be heard by anyone with access in the household. This messaging feature does not yet contain a password protection or associated PIN. Anyone who has access to one's cell phone number is able to use this feature to contact them through their supported Alexa app or Echo device. The feature to block alerts for messages and calls is available temporarily by utilizing the Do Not Disturb feature.

Alexa Skills Kit

 

Amazon allows developers to build and publish skills for Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit.These third-party developed skills, once published, are available across Alexa-enabled devices. Users can enable these skills using the Alexa app.

A "Smart Home Skill API" is available, meant to be used by hardware manufacturers to allow users to control smart home devices.

Most skills run code almost entirely in the cloud, using Amazon's AWS Lambda service.