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This company's stock popped 220% in a year. Now it's taking on Amazon

Nvidia creates Spot to take on Amazon's Alexa
Nvidia creates Spot to take on Amazon's Alexa

An unlikely player just emerged to take on heavyweights such as Amazon in the artificial intelligence space.

Nvidia debuted a new product, Spot, that takes on Amazon's Alexa. Spot is ambient and thus can hear commands from far away, using Google Assistant to respond to spoken requests.

"Whereas [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg has incredible programming skills and can spend a year to build an AI for his home, I've decided we should build it for all of you," Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said on Wednesday.

One of the most exciting times in computing history has been fueled by the unexpected industry of video games, led by Nvidia, Huang said in a keynote address at technology conference CES in Las Vegas.

"We are going through unquestionably the most exciting times in the computer history that we've ever witnessed," Huang said.

On Wednesday, the company deepened its reach into gaming with several announcements. Its gaming platform, GeForce, will now be available on Facebook and a cloud-based PC platform. The company also announced high-definition streaming deals with Netflix, Amazon, Google Play and YouTube.

But Huang said the company's impactful technology is its BB8 self-driving cars. Nvidia is working with Audi for a car that should be in production by 2020.

"We believe the car itself should also be an AI co-pilot," Huang said.

Once known as a niche video game processor company, Nvidia has seen its share price rise more than 220 percent in the past year. Part of the reason is that the Nvidia's processing power has suddenly combined with artificial intelligence to create the "big bang" of deep learning in the industry, Huang said.

"[Deep learning] allows software to write software," Huang said.

Because of the hefty computing requirements of creating true-to-life video game graphics, Nvidia has been able to capitalize on the demand for virtual reality, self-driving cars, and even tasks like facial recognition or writing photo captions.

Indeed, Nvidia showed off some of its cutting-edge technology using the highly anticipated new game, "Mass Effect Andromeda," due out this March.

"This market is ... fueled by the amazing production value of video games that continue to come out," Huang said. "Gaming is no longer just about games. It's now the world's largest sporting event."