#001 — Getting Started with Alexa Voice Service

Alexa is the leader of the pack when it comes to providing a voice assistant as a service. It can very easily be integrated into your product. In this post, let’s break it down to understand it better.

Alexa is a software as a service (SaaS) which is made available by Amazon for free. It makes it very easy to add a voice assistant to any consumer electronic device. All your device needs to have is

  • a microphone
  • speakers
  • Internet

That’s it!

Amazon Lex is a managed service offered by AWS which let’s you use ASR and NLU to build your own Alexa-like chatbots.

Amazon Polly is a managed service that’s offered by Amazon to help you add voice as a new dimension inside your applications.

Apart from these 2 services, Amazon has a created a solid interaction model around the Alexa API. This makes it easier for developers to implement a client in a programming language of their choice. 
More about it can be read here.

Getting started with development

Make sure you hit Allow when the browser asks for permissions

For development and testing purposes, it is possible to simply use a browser to access the Alexa Voice Service. Navigate to echosim.io, where you can login with a free Amazon account and start using Alexa from within your browser.

Amazon’s developers have made a Java implementation of their proposed interaction model available as an open source project. The source code for the same is available here.

The things that can be done with Alexa are too many to cover in a single post! In upcoming posts, we’ll do a step-wise dive into the nitty-gritties of adding voice support to your products.

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