Amazon opens up Alexa

Amazon unveiled a service allowing other companies to use the technology behind its Alexa AI to create custom digital assistants, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) lined up as its first customer.

Alexa Custom Assistant enables brands to build their own digital assistant with a unique voice, wake word and skills. These will cover specialised tasks including in-vehicle controls, while Amazon’s AI will tackle general queries.

In a blog, Amazon noted building an AI assistant “is complex, time-consuming, and costly”, stating its service would enable more companies to create their own “without the investment, long development cycles and resources to build it from scratch and maintain over time”.

It cited vehicles, consumer electronics, mobile applications, smart buildings and video games as among the potential applications.

Amazon added FCA had “already begun the planning process for the development” of a custom assistant set to be integrated into “select vehicle models”.

Alexa Custom Assistant is available from today (15 January) in 15 countries, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and India, with more to follow.