Today, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced that Amazon Lex, an artificial intelligence (AI) service for building applications that can have conversations using voice and text, is now available to all customers. Amazon Lex brings the sophisticated and proven deep learning algorithms that power Amazon Alexa to all developers as a fully managed service.
Until now, very few developers have been able to build, deploy, and broadly scale apps with automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) capabilities because doing so required training sophisticated deep learning algorithms on massive amounts of data and infrastructure. Amazon Lex eliminates all of this heavy lifting, making it easy for developers to build apps that can have conversations using voice or text by offering the same ASR and NLU technologies that power Amazon Alexa, as a fully managed service. With Amazon Lex, developers can build and test conversational apps that perform tasks such as checking the weather or latest news, booking travel, ordering food, getting the latest sales or marketing data from business software, or controlling a connecting device. To build a conversational app, developers provide Amazon Lex sample phrases that describe a user’s intent (e.g., “book a flight”) along with the corresponding information Amazon Lex needs to ask to fulfill the intent (e.g., travel date and destination), and any required questions Amazon Lex needs to ask to elicit additional information (e.g., “when do you want to travel?” and “where do you want to go?”). Amazon Lex takes care of the rest by building a machine learning model that parses the speech or text input from the user, understands the intent behind the conversation, and manages the conversation (e.g., if the travel date is already known, the app will skip that question and ask for the destination). Developers can then publish the conversational app to mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, web applications, and chat services such as Facebook Messenger, Slack or Twilio. Amazon Lex handles the authentication required by different platforms using the customer provided keys and scales automatically as traffic increases, so developers don’t have to worry about provisioning and managing infrastructure.
“Thousands of machine learning and deep learning experts across Amazon have been developing AI technologies for years, and Amazon Alexa includes some of the most sophisticated and powerful deep learning technologies in existence,” said Raju Gulabani, Vice President, Databases, Analytics, and AI, AWS. “We thought customers might be excited to use the same technology that powers Alexa to build conversational apps, but we’ve been blown away by the customer response to our preview – as organizations in virtually every industry like Capital One, Freshdesk, Hubspot, Liberty Mutual, Ohio Health, and Vonage have mobilized quickly to build on top of Amazon Lex.”
Amazon Lex is integrated with AWS Lambda, the pioneer in event-driven computing that lets developers run code without provisioning or managing servers (serverless). This means that developers can build Amazon Lex conversational apps that use Lambda functions to implement business logic and retrieve data from enterprise applications and AWS Services like Amazon DynamoDB. Amazon Lex also includes built-in connectors that make it easy for conversational apps to access data from popular SaaS applications like Salesforce, Marketo, Zendesk, and QuickBooks so apps built using Amazon Lex can answer questions like “what are my top 10 accounts in Salesforce” by fetching appropriate data from Salesforce. Developers can also easily access analytics provided by Amazon Lex to measure various application performance and accuracy metrics that they can use to improve their apps over time.
The American Heart Association (AHA) is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. “The AHA engages nearly 1 million participants, nationwide, through our premier Heart Walk events to further our mission of saving lives,” said Roger Santone, Executive Vice President of Technology, AHA. “The world is rapidly changing and we are constantly rethinking traditional approaches to reach people at the pace that they live their everyday lives. We used Amazon Lex’s AI technology to streamline the registration process so prospective Heart Walk participants can use their natural voice to easily register through heartwalk.org. We are committed to the role that technology plays in enabling consumers, patients, and physicians to achieve better health outcomes and to further the mission of the AHA.”
Freshdesk is a leading provider of cloud-based customer engagement software, allowing organizations to support customers through email, phone, websites, forums, and social media. “Adding Amazon Lex to our cloud-based platform will help our customers provide a more personalized experience, a critical feature in customer support,” said Francesco Rovetta, Vice President Alliances, Freshdesk. “Our 100,000 customers will be able to use natural language to handle administrative tasks, review metrics and provide support, ultimately simplifying ticket management. Using Amazon Lex for intent identification, our customers will quickly be able to answer their clients’ questions, resulting in the ability for agents to address the more complex inquiries in a timely manner. With Alexa speech recognition and natural language technology, Amazon Lex maintains context in conversation, creating a more natural dialogue. We are excited to team up with Amazon Lex as we help organizations around the world deliver better, more personal support to their customers.”
Vonage is a leading provider of cloud communications for business. “The expansion of AI-driven conversational services has enabled businesses to engage with their customers in ways that are more meaningful and more contextual than ever before,” said Alan Masarek, Chief Executive Officer, Vonage. “With Amazon Lex, we can empower Vonage customers to choose how and where they will engage with us – building intelligent interaction paths into existing voice and messaging channels. Vonage is also developing ways to integrate Amazon Lex with our API Platform, Nexmo, to provide enterprise developers with an easy way to build custom conversational apps driven by natural language understanding and speech recognition, and deliver them through any medium, reaching customers wherever they are – whether it’s phone, text, app, or mobile device.”
Liberty Mutual Insurance helps people preserve and protect what they earn, build, own and cherish. “With the growing importance of cognitive technologies in every area of business, we were delighted to see Amazon Lex, with its Speech Recognition and Natural Language Understanding technologies, added to the broad portfolio of services AWS provides,” said Gillian Armstrong, Insurance Technologist, Liberty Mutual. “Amazon Lex integrates easily into our existing applications, as well as our new cloud-native serverless architectures, enabling us to rapidly take advantage of these powerful technologies to improve and extend the capabilities we can offer our employees and customers.”
Customers can launch Amazon Lex using the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), or AWS SDKs. Amazon Lex is available in the US East (N. Virginia) Region.