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AWS opens LEX to all users

William Payne
April 20, 2017
 
Amazon Web Services has made its artificial intelligence service Amazon Lex available to all customers. Amazon Lex is an AI based service for building applications that can have conversations using voice and text. Customers already using Amazon Lex including the American Heart Association, Capital One, Freshdesk, Hubspot, Liberty Mutual, NASA, Ohio Health, and Vonage. The service will make it easier for developers to build smart voice activated cloud based services. Markets that could be affected include healthcare, home automation, industrial, insurance, and retail.

Amazon Lex is designed to make it easier 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 fulfil 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 organisations in virtually every industry like Capital One, Freshdesk, Hubspot, Liberty Mutual, Ohio Health, and Vonage have mobilised 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.