Amazon's Alexa Isn't Working For Most of the Country

By buying Ring and other smart home start-ups tech's biggest firms try to lure more people into their ecosystems

By buying Ring and other smart home start-ups tech's biggest firms try to lure more people into their ecosystems

A widespread Alexa outage Friday likely resulting from issues with Amazon Web Services has reminded people of last month's Super Bowl Ad in which the virtual assistant lost her voice and was helped out by a variety of celebrities.

Alexa already possesses limited translation abilities for select European languages, but Amazon is working toward something much greater, according to the sources. In real life, though, Alexa users had to wait until she is up and running again to ask about the weather or use voice commands to play music. Alexa will also be mindful of the Japanese culture, which is more formal and conservative than American culture.

For example, if a user from the U.S.is only capable of speaking English but he is at an event in Japan, Alexa will be able to help that user hold a conversation in Japanese.

Amazon Alexa is already capable of translating short sentences in English into 36 different languages, including Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian and Thai. Context and cultural awareness is something that's still missing. Google Pixel Buds has a similar feature and obviously work with a Google Assistant.

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Alexa Prize is a competition where Amazon challenges teams from several universities around the world to create socialbots that can converse "coherently and engagingly with humans..."

Down Detector reported a huge spike in the number of people reporting problems with the digital assistant, the brain in some of Amazon's connected home products like the Echo smart speaker, starting at 9:39 am ET.

Beyond language itself, the company wants Alexa to gain a well-rounded knowledge of the cultures in which the translated languages are spoken.

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