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Design & Technology October 15, 2019

Alexa: as social and communicative as people are

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Max Amordeluso is the Lead Evangelist for Amazon Alexa in Europe and, of course, he loves Alexa. He believes voice assistants are radically changing our interaction with machines. This technological shift can make us less dependent on our phones but could also help elderly people live more comfortable and independent lives.

According to Max, we’re going through a new technological revolution. How humans and machines are interacting is changing dramatically. The way we access information and connect with each other via various interfaces is altering.

In the 1990s, the newest interface was the web, in the 2000s it was mobile and now Voice User Interfaces (VUI) is the next disruptive phase. It comes with many opportunities and it’s going to change our daily lives as previous phases did.

Alexa and human communication

Using our voice to communicate is natural, in fact, many of us quite enjoy talking. We understand other fellow humans via their spoken words in addition to context and body language. However, machines don’t have those added layers. Moreover, language and all its quickly add to existing technology. So to get their “voice” right, Amazon allows — among other things — any developer globally to develop built-in capabilities (also known as skills) for Alexa in their own market.

The social aspect of a voice assistant

Max explains how a fully developed and tailored Alexa can help us be more social and rely less on technology. Smartphones or laptops will no longer isolate us. Voice is conversely like the Alexa commercial shows us: a woman sitting in a bus and getting answers from Alexa without missing the events that take place around her. With voice assistants such as Alexa, we are not constrained by personal technology anymore. We can be social, aware of the reality that surrounds us whilst getting the answers we need.

Is Alexa solving problems?

So Alexa allows us to be social, is easy to use, and is more natural. Thus it has been embraced by all demographics. In fact, this technology is particularly useful for the elderly. For example, it can help them remember to take their medicine, to go outside for some air or even simply entertain them by playing their favourite music. This can improve people’s well-being and help older people who might be living at home alone. The best part is that Alexa continuously learns from our habits so her words, answers and reminders can become more tailored as time goes on.

The future

Sooner than you might think, machines will live with us and we will communicate with them just like we do with our friends and family. And once voice technology truly takes off, who knows what the future holds.

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