The power of Amazon Echo is no longer just for your home.
Developers building on top of Amazon Web Services can now use Alexa, the voice-controlled intelligence system that runs the Echo home assistant, inside their applications, the Seattle-based company said on Wednesday at the annual AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.
It's called Lex, and the idea is to bring natural language controls to any app, whether it's for booking a flight, ordering food or, more importantly, the ability to ask questions and follow-ups in a conversational manner. The preview is available starting Wednesday.
"There are very few natural language understanding and speech recognition applications and platforms that get more everyday usage than what Alexa and the Echo get," said AWS CEO Andy Jassy, in an interview with CNBC. "What a lot of customers want when they build these conversational applications is they want the technology that's actually being used over and over again that they see every day."
As more computing moves from servers in company closets and basements to data centers owned by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM, businesses are able to take advantage of more sophisticated technologies in their own services. Machine learning and artificial intelligence is perhaps the best example of what's coming.