As part of their continuous effort to make voice assistants less ominous and more friendly and useful, tech companies have kept busy with integrating a wider array of services into the things they can do. Last July, LMS providers Blackboard and Instructure showcased the sets of features that soon might join the list of commands Alexa can recognize.
Software developers can build special functionality, or “skills,” for Alexa. During InstructureCon, the conference of Canvas’ parent company, attendees were treated to a brief demonstration about the Canvas “skills.”
— Carrie Sanguinetti (@c_sang18) July 27, 2017
Once activated, a user can formulate Alexa questions like “Do I have any missing assignments?” or “What do I have today?”
During its own event running parallel to InstructureCon, Blackboard presented early versions of their two skills. The first one, called “The Game for Blackboard Learn,” allows users to test their knowledge about Blackboard Learn itself and discover new features in Blackboard Ultra.
Currently, Alexa works primarily on the Amazon Echo, a home-based device. While Amazon, has not disclosed the Echo’s sales figures, estimations set the number of units sold as high as 10 million. Alexa and related Amazon services for consumers and companies could reach $10 billion USD in sales by 2020, according to investment researchers. Existing Alexa “skills” include several home appliances, and skills connected to vehicles are expected sometime soon.