Amazon is in pole position with its Alexa platform and the future looks bright


As voice recognition takes off, we spoke to David Kaiser, German Country Manager, Alexa Skills, during the IFA Innovations Media Briefing in Berlin. We started by asking him how important Alexa is going to become for end users.

I think it will become very important because voice is the more natural interface to interact with technology. In the past 50 or 60 years, we have switched from doing something strange – learning to type on a keyboard and using a mouse – in many user cases, this is not efficient. This is not intuitive. Voice will be much better to do this.

Through Amazon Alexa, you have said that you want Amazon to become the most customer centric company. What does that mean?

Everything we do at Amazon, we start with the customer. Whenever we invent something new, we start with the customer and try to solve a problem. We want to make their lives easier and better. We really care about what our customers want.

What are the main things that people use Alexa for now and how is that changing as time goes on?

A lot of people use Alexa for productivity and small things like setting a timer or a reminder. We see more and more people using the communication feature. Besides that, we see the entertainment part of Alexa is growing, such as listening to music and listening to media devices, but also gaming is a huge topic.

What does the future look like? What scenarios are you looking at?
I can’t talk about the future, but recently we have made Alexa able to control cameras, and security is a very important topic for people at home. Amazon recently acquired Ring, the video doorbell company, which enables consumers to see live video of someone ringing the doorbell. A few months back we launched Echo Buttons, which lets gamers play interactive games with Alexa as a moderator or as play host.

How will Alexa drive control of the smart home?
As well as no longer needing a remote, it also means that you can set scenarios, such as the smart house. We call that “routines”, where you can define your routines and Alexa can do a lot of things at the same time.

One example is that as you say “good morning”, it opens the blinds and turns on the daily news briefing in your bathroom. Or another example is say “Alexa start movie time”, and it dims the lights to 20% in the living room, turns off the music and starts the TV, just with one very short, efficient voice task.

How many devices are Alexa-enabled?
We have a vision that Alexa, some day, is everywhere. We have seen tens of thousands developers working on integrating Alexa into products and hardware and we have more than 50 forms of different Alexa devices like smart speakers and robots, right the way up to lights with integrated Alexa.

On Saturday, Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s Vice President of Smart Home will deliver a keynote at IFA. Can you give a taste for what Daniel will speak about? Hewillgointoalotof the new things that have come and explain how our customers interact and what new possibilities are there to interact with Alexa.

In 10 years’ time, what will happen to Alexa?
I’m pretty sure that we will expand around the globe and we have accelerated how we launch new countries. Alexa is now available in seven languages in many different countries and we’ve just launched in France and have recently announced in Italy and Spain for developers.

I don’t know if we’ll get around the globe in one, three or, five years and I don’t know how the future will look in 10 years, but, for sure, voice will be everywhere.

Photo: David Kaiser, German Country Manager, Alexa Skills