Alexa Gears Up for Sports Queries
For some time now, Amazon’s Alexa has been increasing it’s sports related knowledge, and just in time for this year’s NFL season. Amazon’s Alexa principal product manager for sports information, Jason Semine, says “sports-related questions have become some of the most popular [questions to ask and]…sports moments are very important to our customers. This year we wanted to double-down in this area and see where else Alexa might be useful as it relates to sports.”
Alexa is beefing up its knowledge of NFL teams and also about Soccer, Tennis and Women’s Basketball Leagues among others. Alexa now features details of completed games, sports history, records and statistics trivia, details specific to player or team status, as well as reports related to specific teams, and even predictions for future games. Due to a partnership with Yahoo!, Yahoo! Fantasy football updates are available as well.
Context Based Information and Responses
The necessary data for these features comes from around 50 sports statistics sources, such as Stats.com and Sportradar. However a decent amount of work had to be done, and is still being worked on, in order to make Alexa able to update users during games as well.
According to Semine, Alexa is able to handle these requests thanks to Amazon’s work on improving the ability to respond to more conversational language, and becoming more context aware. For example, Amazon’s goal is to have Alexa know what kind of sport a user is talking about just based on the team name, or a question about a game, says Semine. Amazon wants “Alexa to understand and be able to answer all questions, in all forms, from anywhere in the world.” That sounds like the core mission of another technology giant and Amazon competitor.
Amazon’s Role in Sports’ Reach
At the end of last month, it was reported that Amazon Prime would be showing the US Open, and that Alexa would be a ‘tennis-expert.’ Alexa was given tennis data so that it could answer user queries relating to live scores, tennis player rankings, as well as player bios. Amazon has been setting itself up to be a player in online streaming services as well, making a deal during June to show 20 Premier League matches a season as a part of a three-year broadcast deal in the UK for Prime members. Amazon also shows the US Open Tennis, ATP World Tour Tennis event, and NFL games for UK Prime users.
How do other Voice Assistants Compare?
Both Siri and Google Assistant also have the ability to answer sports related questions, such as player statistics and teams’ standings. Since 2012, Siri has had the ability to answer sports questions, with the help of ESPN. Google Assistant uses actions like StatMuse, SportsFacts, and ScoreTracker, to answer user questions related to the NBA, NFL, MLB, AND NHL.