Amazon’s Alexa is… British?

The Echo's voice interface started life as a British product called Evi - and its creator predicts a ubiquitous voice interface future.

Wired has an interesting piece on the origins of Alexa, the AI found in the Echo devices:

Amazon Echo, the acclaimed voice-controlled AI device, is built on the technology of a little-known British company, Evi, which Amazon acquired in 2012.

Formerly known as True Knowledge, Evi was founded in 2005 by AI aficionado and entrepreneur William Tunstall-Pedoe, who wanted to develop software that accurately interpreted questions and framed more natural, conversational answers.

It’s interesting that two of the biggest names in these conversational interfaces – Alexa and Siri – were both apps acquired and integrated by Amazon and Apple respectively.

Tunstall-Pedoe has moved on from Amazon, and has some interesting thoughts on where voice interfaces are going next:

In ten years, people will expect all technology to respond to voice. In every building and vehicle, a computer system will respond to spoken requests and control the technology. Light switches and other controls that we see today may still be present, but will just be the manual alternative.

Sounds good to me.