The Internet of Things (IoT) is a popular topic these days and it is predicted to grow into a million and millions of networked computer devices (with some numbers of sensors and actuators) into the physical world performing their daily actions in home builds.
Managing the state of these devices are as important as integrating these devices into our daily life. Internet is one of the reasons because of which the IoT devices have seen their growth.
The IoT devices use their private internet connection to communicate with another IoT device (geographically somewhere) or with the internet to access the information from database to guide people through different tasks. Internet is the key tool for the people to have access to the day-to-day information needed to interact with the world.
There is extensive information available on the internet for a particular subject the individual is searching for, to have the best information out of all in hand in a smart and intuitive way, the solution of virtual assistance (VA) based on the IoT context comes into action.
In handy it is a conjunction of IoT devices, Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) and automation software are to perform activities or services for an individual in several domains like home automation, Hospitality services, healthcare, etc.
Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA) or Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) also known as conversational agents, smart speakers, or voice-controlled agents was evolving to play a great role in comforting human lives. The most popular IPAs in action are Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana in which some of them are smartphone applications and some are enabled with the Internet of Things (IoT) integration.
These services mainly work based on user input, location, and API data (weather, news, etc.). The advantage in the present IPA technologies is that they have the capabilities of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and real-time learning from the user interaction (verbal commands) to improve the results.
IPA uses the natural languages to speak back to the users (even with some humor and personality). Just a simple “Alexa” is enough to bring the Alexa into action.
This article mainly focuses on the Alexa (Amazon) Skills, which has the diverse features that other IPAs don’t support or implemented it later (copying from Alexa). One such feature is its ability to interact with most of the third-party apps. It supports more than 130 third party applications.
But exactly what/Who is Alexa? Amazon has designed the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) that is used to mimic the real-world conversations, “Alexa”, “Echo”, “Amazon” is intuitively a “wake word” that alerts the AVS service to start listening to your voice commands and act accordingly, this service was deployed in the cloud and form a centrally managed console. Because of such property, it could make almost all the speakers (with mic) be voice-enabled (smart speaker). With the Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) “Alexa” is getting smarter every day. It can handle home devices, online buying things, etc.
Where can we find Alexa? Alexa could be found in Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show, this cloud-based service could also be integrated into Echo Auto, and with the third-party devices. Devices like Fire TV and some third-party devices like a light switch, smart-home systems, Wink, Logitech Harmony, etc.
The voice commands, the core of this technology, is growing at a fast pace on a daily basis. Alexa developers call these as an “Alexa skills”, these skills are a kind of open source and can be created (Steps to create Alexa skills) and published(Amazon Skill Store) according to one’s need using the Alexa Skill Kits(ASK) in Alexa portal. DSP Group has even released a development kit to access the Alexa Voice Services (AVS)
Alexa for Hospitality: Amazon has launched Alexa for Hospitality on June/2018, it was a new experience and the moment for hospitality service providers to grow smarter. As a report from Amazon – Alexa in hospitality was used for diverse kinds of functionalities like ordering room services, calling the front desk, controlling in-room devices/temperature, private access management and even checking out.
This service announced by Amazon was with the intention to expand the technology further to support the customers and the hotel guests with greater experience. This opens a new way of personalizing the rental rooms according to the guests who rent the room/property. Greater personalizing experience means changing the rental rooms into their home with the perfect lighting/temperature, and own music.
Since the Vacation rentals/Hospitality services are based on the multiple guests, data security and privacy were a major concern. Amazon had ensured that the voice commands and the conversations between the user and Alexa devices will be encrypted and deleted in a timely basis, No one (another guest or Hotel owners) can really have access to those data guaranteeing the privacy.
Integrating Alexa for Hospitality have the following limitations and challenges like
- Guest education
- Data protection – Security
Apart from all the limitations and challenges, Alexa in the field of hospitality would potentially increase the revenue and empowers the hotel technology ecosystem. It also extends the opportunity to other businesses in partnership with the hospitality service provider like technical deployment partners, Over-the-top (OTT) content providers like – Cisco, Netflix, Huawei, etc.
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