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Amazon launches new Amazon AI platform

During its re:Invent developer event in Las Vegas today, Amazon announced its new Amazon AI platform which will make many the company's machine learning tools available to developers to use in their apps and websites.

Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services, explained that the company has a great deal of background in machine learning, saying: “We do a lot of AI in our company.  We have thousands of people dedicated to AI in our business.” Amazon has decided to release three tools that take advantage of its AI to developers with the launch of its new platform.

The first tool is an image recognition service called “Rekognition” which is able to identify objects and scenes in a similar fashion to Google and Microsoft's tools. Amazon did note that its service is able to identify dogs by their breeds, but other image recognition tools have done this in the past.

The next tool the company announced is a text to-speech service called Amazon Polly, which utilises machine learning to sound more natural and differentiate between the pronunciations of words based on their context. Amazon's speech tool will also offer support for 24 languages and feature 47 male and female voices.

Jassy offered more details on the tool, saying: “Polly was designed to address many of the more challenging aspects of speech generation.  For example, consider the difference in pronunciation of the word “live” in the phrases 'I live in Seattle' and 'Live from New York.' Polly knows that this pair of homographs are spelled the same but are pronounced quite differently.”

The third tool Amazon announced is a new service called “Lex” that takes advantage of the technology that powers the company's Alexa service. Developers will be able to use the tool to add multi-step conversations to their applications using the Lex Console where they can use simple phrases to train the bot.

Amazon explained how developers can utilise Lex in its announcement, saying: “You can use Amazon Lex to build chatbots and other types of web & mobile applications that support engaging, lifelike interactions.  Your bots can provide information, power your applications, streamline work activities, or provide a control mechanism for robots, drones, and toys.”

Scott Horn, CMO of [24]7 commented on the announcements: “Amazon’s announced advances in AI demonstrate yet another example of the value businesses are putting on the power of machine-learning. Abilities like natural language processing (NLP) which power chatbots like Alexa, are markers of an industry-wide race to better serve customers through AI. These advances are not only applauded by businesses, but also by customers.

"According to [24]7’s new customer experience study, which surveyed 1,000 US consumers, two in five consumers are open to interacting with a chatbot in a retail scenario, and nearly one-third of them (28.9 per cent) prefer it over the phone or email. This level of adoption points to a profitable opportunity for retailers as they consider future CX investments.” 

Image Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.