The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) represents a significant step forward in both voice recognition (i.e. Natural Language understanding aka NLU) and in the Internet of Things. In fact, it may very well be the final element to connecting pretty much every internet-capable device in the world. Sure, Apple’s HomeKit made some decent attempts, and is a great SmartHome system. But unfortunately, Amazon and Alexa have taken the cake on this one. It was the star of the show at one of the Tech Industry’s biggest convention, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is watched closely by the best tech analysts in the business, because it’s an excellent predictor of what the biggest industry trends will be. And Alexa was everywhere. Some estimates place the number of products that were compatible with AVS as high as 1,100 different products. It’s not even contained within SmartHome Devices (like Nest) any longer – it’s now in SmartCars. This is basically Amazon’s seemingly successful attempt to take on the Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) market. One of the biggest holdups in the widespread adoption of VPA (Siri, Cortana, Google Now, etc) have been issues with compatibility. This is why having so many Gadgets and Devices that Alexa can control is so significant. Alexa represents a significant change in the viability of the business market – for the better. Prior to AVS, one of the biggest downsides to creating an app for Smart Infrastructures (Homes, Cars, Offices, and so on) was there was no centralized control hub. If you wanted to tell your smart thermostat to turn up the heat and your Smart Security system to lock the front door, you had to tell each separately (oh, dear). While most definitely a first world problem, it has prevented widescale adoption of many Smart Devices. Enter Alexa, the central control hub for seemingly the entire IoT. But more importantly, AVS is set up so that any Smart device can be reprogrammed with Alexa. Phones, Cars, Tablets, and Homes, all you need is a great app development team. Amazon has made it very easy for third-party developers like those employed by SDI to build “Skills” apps. These Skills simply replace the app interface installed by the Gadget manufacturer, enabling AVS-control. LIke Mark Zuckerberg’s SmartHome system Jarvis, AVS can pretty much enable voice control on anything with a microphone. From the entrepreneurial side of things, this is a big deal. How Alexa is Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities Alexa is more than just a cool piece of tech. It represents a whole new phase in Human-Computer Interaction. Which means that it’s more than just good news for Amazon. It really opens the door to a whole new host of support and service industries: ♦ As we’ve already discussed, AVS can be installed on pretty much all Gadgets or Smart Devices. This means that anyone can build a Gadget App that is AVS compatible. Alexa is poised to be the key that unlocks the true potential of the IoT; this means that having an AVS-enabled app will be extremely valuable to consumers. ♦ Smart Homes are getting a lot of attention, but the business applications of an AVS app are also massively significant. If AVS can control a Smart Thermostat, it can control a Smart Manufacturing machine. While not yet revolutionary, there is a lot of potential for entrepreneurial growth. ♦ Privacy is going to be huge. Privacy and data collection are always a hot-button issue, with many entrepreneurs making their name (and their fortunes) on encryption and privacy in a world that is increasingly less private. AVS kicks this whole thing up a notch (bam!). By its nature, Alexa has to always be listening to you. To be clear, while it’s always listening, IT IS NOT ALWAYS TRANSMITTING. More on Privacy We’re not saying that AVS is keeping track of everything you say. As a matter of fact, Amazon has gone out of its way to ensuring privacy, from only keeping your words saved for 30 seconds, to storing info locally as opposed to on Amazon’s Cloud Services. Nor are we saying that this passive listening is relegated only to Alexa: this is a concern with any VPA, including Google Home and Cortana. But it’s still an issue that needs to be considered. Already, there’s a significant portion of internet users who are very concerned about privacy – and how to protect that privacy. Because even if Amazon isn’t collecting information constantly now, it may in the future. Amazon doesn’t even need to know about it: if it can connect to the internet, it can be hacked. Let’s be honest: privacy is a concern, but it’s not a reason to turn your back on tech and the future. Plus, it’s too late already. If you own a smartphone or go on the internet at all, there are tons of your personal data stored somewhere. In other words, there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity in the form of providing apps with the best tech has to offer in security and encryption. Or you could go even more direct at the problem, developing an app with the sole purpose of protecting a user’s privacy. Either way, SDI is more than capable of helping you build the perfect app for security, the IoT, and AVS. So pick up the phone and give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us! We offer a free consultation and quote, as well as an ironclad NDA so you can rest easy.