Alexa offers multiple skills for purchasing movie tickets and reserving restaurant tables, but each had to be used in isolation. In a demonstration of the new experience, after a person had bought two movie tickets through a skill called Atom Tickets, Alexa asked “Will you be eating out?”
When the answer was “Yes, find me a Chinese restaurant,” Alexa transitioned into a discussion about nearby options, and reserved a table for two. The assistant then offered to arrange a ride to the restaurant, and scheduled an Uber.
Previously, achieving all that would have required a user to speak to Alexa at least 40 times, says Rohit Prasad, the vice president who leads work on the artificial intelligence behind Alexa. The new multitasking conversation system can get the same result in 13 utterances or fewer, in part because the user doesn’t have to repeat the time and location over and over.
This almost reads as silly, rudimentary stuff — until you get to the part where 40 utterances has been cut to 13. Yes, it remains early days in the space. And yes, this seems like baby steps. But actually, this is more like a baby leap. (Aside: Do babies leap? Mine does not. At least not yet...) As we move towards a future where voice is increasingly a key part of our daily computing lives.Read more...