The personal virtual assistant market has been growing quite rapidly over the years. Amazon has the Echo line, Google has Google Home and even Microsoft partnered with Harman Kardon for the Invoke speaker that utilizes Cortana. This market is bound to continue growing with Samsung working on their own for Bixby, but there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to the brains behind these systems. The Vice President of the Alexa division at Amazon recently spoke at the annual Web Summit tech conference, revealing that long form conversational tasks are something he wants Alexa to be able to handle.
As it is right now, these personal assistant devices can handle simple, short commands when asked. This includes information about the weather, the results of a recent sports game and some of the latest news stories for various sources. They’re also able to handle simple tasks like placing a phone call, creating reminders and alarms, and playing music all with your voice. Mr. Al Lindsay, the Vice President of Alexa at Amazon has bigger plans for their product though and their team has a goal of allowing Alexa to hold conversations of up to 20 minutes long.
An example that was given showed how you can’t book an entire vacation on these devices in one go. While you can do small parts of this task (including booking a hotel or checking the status of a flight), it involves a number of things to be done one after the other. The team at Alexa would like it to be as simple as booking it yourself or even like the conversation you would have with a travel agent. In the hopeful future, you tell Alexa everything you need and it goes and does all the work behind the scenes.
Mr. Lindsay admits this is a complex task and it could take a long time before it is finally realized. Still, it is a goal that they are working towards and something they would like to see implemented in the future.