Ask an Amazon Echo, "Alexa, where are you?" And you're sure to get any number of witty responses. One of them won't be, "I'm at the Consumer Electronics Show," however. You'd be hard pressed to know that.
It's simple really, and if you've been following Alexa over the past year, you'd know why. Amazon has created perhaps one of the best voice-activated cloud platforms for the smart home yet. Yes, Amazon Echo is a product, but Alexa is really the platform that matters most.
Back in August, Amazon introduced a developer preview of its free Alexa Voice Service, for example.
That allows third-party hardware makers to integrate the voice controls and cloud smarts into their own products. And as evidenced by a number of CES product launches, some companies are tapping into Alexa.
Take the $29 TrackR Bravo tag. You attach the small, round Bluetooth enabled device to your laptop bag, coat, keys or what have you to help you find your stuff. This year, TrackR Bravo will integrate with Alexa so that you can simply ask her to find your tagged belongings.
Sitting at home you might want to know the fuel range of your Ford vehicle: Simply ask Alexa and she can tell you. But when behind the wheel, you can use an Echo as well. Perhaps like me, you have various smart home devices such as lights or a thermostat connected to your Echo. A few miles from home, you can tell Alexa to turn on lights and adjust the temperature, simply by speaking to the in-car Ford system.
Why the sudden the movement for third-party Alexa adoption? Simply put, Amazon is providing all of the tools to make it easy and free for developers and device makers.
It doesn't hurt that Alexa is quite good at hearing and responding to requests, either. There's no need for a company to spend tons of R&D to develop its own speech-recognition system that taps into the cloud when Amazon provides a more than serviceable option.