View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. What Is
July 13, 2016updated 21 Mar 2017 11:52am

What is Alexa?

The smart home future is here, and it's name is Alexa.

By Joao Lima

Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant created by Amazon.

The voice of Amazon Echo, the ecommerce giant’s smart home device, Alexa interacts with the user through voice commands to fulfill a variety of tasks.

Users can ask Alexa a simple question like, “what will the weather be like this week”, and Alexa will gather information from the internet to reply with an answer. Among other capabilities, Alexa can set alarms, make to-do lists, stream podcasts, provide traffic updates and play music – all through audible commands made by the user.

Alexa can also be used to control smart home devices, transforming itself into a smart automation hub. Alexa can connect to devices like the NEST Thermostat and monitor the temperature of the room, as well as connect to Phillips Hue light bulbs to turn lights on and off. Users need only say a simple command like ‘Alexa turn the lights off’, and Alexa will connect with the corresponding device to carry out the command.

Alexa has a female voice and was first announced in 2014.

Alexa is a digital personal assistant and the voice of Amazon’s smart home device Echo that is capable of answering questions such as, ‘what will the weather be like this week.’

Alexa is a female voice that helps users to get what they want by replying to questions, or carrying out actions propelled by a user request.

Content from our partners
Green for go: Transforming trade in the UK
Manufacturers are switching to personalised customer experience amid fierce competition
How many ends in end-to-end service orchestration?

Those using Echo simply have to say “Alexa” and they say a command, ask a question, or simply ask Alexa to take notes of something.

Amazon Echo was unveiled in November 2014, with a wider launch in June 2015. It is a smart home assistant device.


Ancient library or Starship Enterprise – how did Alexa get it’s name?

The female-voiced Alexa was first announced in 2014, with Amazon embarking on the project after having taken inspiration from the computer voice and conversational system on board the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek.

The name Alexa was chosen fro it’s hard ‘X’, which could be recognised with higher precision. It is also claimed that Alexa takes its name from the Library of Alexandria – a renowned historical site with vast troves of knowledge.

In 2016, Amazon announced Amazon Lex for developers. This service gave developers the speech recognition and natural language processing technology which underpins Alexa. Using the service, developers can create their own chatbots.


Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.