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Amazon Web Services Introduces New Intelligence

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Amazon Web Services announced the launch of three new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities which will be made available to developers across the globe in the coming months.

Amazon Rekognition, Amazon Polly and Amazon Lex were launched to more than 32,000 attendees at Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last week, placing the cloud-computing provider, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com, in the AI race.

Amazon Rekognition identifies and analyses images, objects and scenes. It can locate and recognize faces in images by detecting facial attributes such as a smile. Real estate agency Redfin has used the capability to develop an application to sift through thousands of property listings and help customers find houses based on their needs, such as a swimming pool or garden.

Amazon Polly converts text into audio and interprets the text to make it more understandable when spoken. The capability offers 47 voices across 24 languages and can convert large volumes of text into speech. It was being used by The Washington Post, which had found existing text-to-speech solutions ineffective and costly, said Joseph Price, the company’s senior product manager.

Amazon Lex is a new service enabling developers to build apps that have conversational interfaces. It is built on the same automatic speech-recognition technology that powers Amazon Alexa, the voice service behind Amazon Echo, a home-based personal assistant.

In June 2015, when Alexa had just 29 skills, all developed in house, Amazon Web Services launched the Alexa Skills Kit to encourage third-party developers to build new skills. Today, Alexa offers more than 5,000 skills.

“Developers are helping us to make our vision of ‘a skill for every occasion’ a reality,” said Alexa vice-president Rohit Prasad.

Online travel company Expedia has built an Expedia skill for Alexa that can manage trips by booking flights, hotels and rental cars.

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy said the company had built functionality into the three new AI capabilities that was not available in other products on the market.

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