Here's How Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are Going Head to Head to Give New Tech Startups a Voice

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There's not an awful lot to be said about Amazon which hasn't already been said. However, one thing you can always count on from Jeff Bezos' ecommerce behemoth is it will always be working on some exciting and often paradigm shifting innovation which is worthy of discussion.

Amazon's room assistant device, Alexa has taken off in ways the retailer probably didn't predict. To date, it has sold in excess of 100 million units. Granting users the ability to perform all manner of tasks using only their voice, from playing music and switching on lights, to ordering food and, of course, Amazon products, Alexa is rapidly becoming a staple element in many homes.

However, Amazon's Alexa is not without competitors. Google's own voice-activated Assistant is out there offering similar experiences. The next step in the evolution of these devices is to offer exciting functionality to the products of other tech startups.


Los Angeles-based startup Shadecraft Robotics wants to help its customers stay cool in the California sun with its high-tech parasol product, Bloom.

Shadecraft wanted a parasol which would open and close at the user's command. For this, they installed Amazon's Alexa software into the device. The Alexa platform allows Bloom to open and close by voice command, as well as play music. However, Shadecraft wants to fully integrate Alexa so that the parasol behaves exactly like an Echo device, allowing users to order products and get up to date information on things such as the weather.

"Bloom is the world's first smart connected hub for mass-market parasols," says the company website. "By easily attaching to existing parasols, Bloom integrates with smart home devices through ShadeCraft's user-friendly app, SmartShade, turning the parasol into an autonomous smart hub for outdoor living. Connect Bloom and convert your existing parasol into a smart device that recognizes wind, opens and closes automatically, can be voice-controlled, app-controlled, compatible with Amazon Alexa, provides Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and charges your devices."

The Alexa Connect Kit

Amazon has made it really simple for tech startups to access Alexa's software and incorporate it into their own products with the launch of the Alexa Connect Kit. The kit has everything which makes Alexa, Alexa, installed on a single chip, which means it can be seamlessly and easily installed in other devices.

"Alexa Connect Kit enables you to turn the ongoing and variable cost of managing your own cloud service into a fixed, one-time cost," said Amazon on its website. "ACK will also offer cloud extensibility options in addition to ACK cloud services for you to connect your device to your own mobile applications, your own cloud service, and third-party cloud services such as IFTTT. While you build and manage devices more quickly and economically, your customers enjoy Alexa control, Wi-Fi simple setup, and the Dash Replenishment Service."

Not to be outdone, Google has released a similar product called Google Assistant Connect. Putting Google Assistant software onto a single chip solution will mean tech developers now have two great platforms to consider for their exciting new products.

However, as these voice-activated devices become ever more ubiquitous, we'll likely see users effortlessly switch between Google and Amazon powered services. With Google arguably superior at sourcing general information from the internet and Amazon leading the way in ecommerce-based services, devices which can utilize either or both are likely to shine in the future.

Final Thoughts

"Google Assistant is in a heated battle with Amazon's Alexa for control of the smart home, and Alexa has already been built into a wider variety of devices," writes Andrew Gebhart for Cnet. "Google Assistant Connect could help the search giant catch up if developers find the idea of offloading computing for certain functions appealing. Alexa has a similar chip called the Amazon Connect Kit, but instead of handling the computing, it simply gives developers easy and secure access to Alexa's cloud."

Amazon and Google are certainly both hot contenders to win the smart home battle and one would struggle to put money on which way it'll go. Thankfully, the world is big enough for both and the spirit of competition and the drive to succeed, both of which can offer exciting opportunities for users, tech startups, and the ecommerce world.

The challenge and opportunity presented by the ongoing dominance of giant brands such as Amazon and Google are sure to be hot topics at eTail Canada 2019, being held in May at the Hyatt Regency Toronto, ON.

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