Aldo Agostinelli

A portal to customize your voice controlled assistant: its name is Alexa Blueprints and, predictably, Amazon has dedicated it to its creature, Alexa. The basic idea of such initiative is this: why should users-clients be forced to wait for an upgrade satisfying their desiderata in terms of new functions, when they could simply customize by themselves their voice controlled assistant on the basis of their requirements? (Perhaps, this is not all, but let’s take a step at a time!)

Read the article in Italian.

Therefore, since some time ago, in addition to being used as a virtual aid in the kitchen helping users to find their lost smartphones or to call a taxi, just to mention a few examples, in the United States, Alexa can become whatever one can wish for, that is to say the perfect digital assistant (16 things you might not know Amazon’s Alexa can do for you) .

Without the need to be programmers or experts in encoding, the owners of Bezos device, can create voice controller apps in just a few minutes and teach Alexa to answer new questions. An ability which may turn out to be particularly useful in various situations (Amazon’s new ‘Alexa Blueprints’ let anyone create custom Alexa skills and responses)

But, especially, Alexa’s new skill is precious for Amazon. Their latest surprise move is smart and can outperform all competitors, who, however, have long failed to keep up.

If it is true that Alexa is leader among voice controlled assistants, with a 70% market share, it may also bring about a collateral positive effect since Blueprints could boost the sales of Echo speakers and give Amazon another competitive advantage in this field. Although Alexa may compete with HomePod by Apple and with Google Home, the former doesn’t support third parties’ apps and the latter doesn’t offer the same level of customization. Which means that the pair Alexa+Echo are, at the moment, the only purely customizable platform available on the market (Amazon Echo Maintains Large Market Share Lead in U.S. Smart Speaker User Base).

Going back to the portal, Blueprints has been conceived as a collection of models with over twenty options allowing the user to create quiz games, stories and, as anticipated, statements to be then pronounced by the device while answering new, additional questions. The process is easy: you login, select the model to be inspired from, click on it and start the customized creative process. And there is no limit to the number of skills you can create (How to build your own Alexa skills with Alexa Blueprints).

So, we are talking about a versatile mechanism everyone can use by entering data and information. And it is just the processing of data, especially personal information, which is causing some perplexity: on the one hand, Alexa is even smarter and nicer to use; on the other hand, some are afraid it may learn too much about its owners’ habits, tastes and preferences.
It is a long debated issue, convenience Vs privacy. We give up a little bit of who we are in exchange for a targeted service. After all, it is a personal choice!

Do you make use of a digital personal assistant? What do you use it for? Tweet @agostinellialdo.

To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest bool: “People Are Media” 

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Aldo Agostinelli