Alexa’s very special set of skills now numbers more than 12,000.
Amazon announced the increased skill count in its quarterly earnings report. That includes more than 300 smart home skills to do things like turn lights on or off, change light color, or lock a door.
Alexa’s latest field of study is fashion. Just yesterday Amazon unveiled the Echo Look, a new $200 “hands-free camera and style assistant” powered by Alexa. The new device, now available by invitation only, lets people use their voice to take full-length pictures and videos of themselves with a depth-sensing camera and computer-generated background blur. Amazon then stores those snapshots via a companion app and can provide fashion recommendations with a “Style Check” service that uses machine learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists.
Along similar lines, Amazon last month released a new Prime benefit for its iOS app called “Outfit Compare” — allowing people to upload pictures of themselves in different outfits and receive quick expert advice. GeekWire tried out that feature, which appeared to be a precursor in some ways to Echo Look.
Alexa’s skills have nearly doubled since the beginning of the year, when she only knew how to do a paltry 7,000 things. Last June, Amazon hit 1,000 skills for its digital brain, and the growth has been exponential since.
Alexa’s proliferation can be partially attributed to Amazon’s decision to open the digital brain up to developers and device manufacturers in 2015. Alexa Voice Service lets manufacturers integrate Alexa into their products. The Alexa Skills Kit encourages third-party developers to build skills for Alexa. Developers who want to add to Alexa’s abilities can write code that works with Alexa in the cloud, letting the smart assistant do the heavy lifting of understanding and deciphering spoken commands.
Amazon also opened up what amounts to Alexa’s ears, her 7-Mic Voice Processing Technology, to third party hardware makers who want to build the digital brain into their devices. This quarter, Amazon opened up Amazon Lex, the artificial intelligence technology that powers Alexa to developers.