Amazon Alexa Now Tracks Flights, Plans Trips - InformationWeek

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5/11/2016
12:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Amazon Alexa Now Tracks Flights, Plans Trips

The Kayak travel search engine is now accessible on Amazon's Alexa to let users search for and track flights.

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Every mobile professional has been there: late, scrambling to pack and run out the door in time to catch a flight. Now, instead of reaching for your smartphone to check the flight's status, you can ask Amazon Echo, which can tell you if your flight is on time or delayed.

Kayak, a search engine that helps travelers find deals on flights, hotels, and car rentals, is the latest app to add a skill to Alexa, the artificial intelligence that powers the Amazon Echo. Enabling the Kayak skill in the Alexa app will let busy people plan and track trips using their voice.

Kayak integrated its core search tool into Alexa, which lets travelers set specific parameters when searching. For example, those on a budget can say, "Alexa, ask Kayak where I can go for $500?" Kayak will then search for a list of flights from the closest airport that cost less than $500. Users can also search based on destinations, "Alexa, ask Kayak to search for hotels in New York City," or "Alexa, ask Kayak to find rental cars in Las Vegas." Alexa answers with a handful of options that meet the basic search criteria.

Need to check on your flight? "Alexa, ask Kayak to track a flight."

(Image: Amazon)

(Image: Amazon)

"Natural language processing is giving us the opportunity to explore new forums for Kayak and new ways to make travel planning easier," Kayak chief technology officer Giorgos Zacharia said in a statement. "We are helping to make Alexa a travel expert and in doing so, shaping the future of travel, which will seamlessly integrate voice, chat and new ways to plan and manage a trip. This is just the beginning."

Kayak didn't say if users will need to install the separate Kayak app, or how Alexa will help push the booking process along.

Alexa learned a few other new skills recently.

The Syfy Channel enabled a skill in Alexa that allows science fiction fans to ask Alexa for episode recaps, sneak peaks, and schedule information for Syfy's original programming.

[Read Amazon Echo Now Offers Children's Health Advice.]

Similarly, Alarm.com is now working with Alexa to allow voice control to its home security system. For example, people can ask Alexa to arm their security, check locks and garage doors, and control thermostats, lights, and video cameras.

Amazon says Alexa has more than 800 skills now from a variety of partners. Alexa is accessible from the Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, and FireTV.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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TechYogJosh
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TechYogJosh,
User Rank: Black Belt
5/12/2016 | 9:32:43 AM
Wont you want to do that silently?
Won't it be strange seeing 100s of people around speaking on their phone at loud noises talking to the search engine? Won't you would want to do things without disturbing others. The noise people make during these voice searches are painful to the people around that place. How are we planning to manage that? Isn't this a bad social etiquette? And this is not only about flight but in general. Won't the voice support create trouble to the people around. You are sitting in your cubicle at office and one voice engine wants you to say out loud something. Gosh, that's bad, really bad.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/11/2016 | 4:51:00 PM
It Cuts Both Ways
It all sounds good for people who are traveling, but it also makes it easier for the "bad guys" to track flights and know where and when they are. Will we see Alexa in the arsenal of terror information tools in the future?

>> Kayak integrated its core search tool into Alexa, which lets travelers set specific parameters when searching. 
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