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Smart Home

Amazon's Alexa learns to suggest skills for your random requests

Alexa, where is the best pizza nearby?

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Amazon is working to bring Alexa users and skill developers closer together.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Alexa has so many skills it can be hard to know which one to use. Now it can suggest them.

The CanFulfillIntentRequest interface, currently in beta, allows US developers of Alexa skills to let Amazon know what kinds of tasks their skill can fufill.

Alexa, the virtual assistant used in Amazon Echo devices, uses this information to recommend skills when a customer makes a more general request -- one without an invocation name.

An example used by Amazon suggests that a customer could ask, "Alexa, where is the best surfing today near Santa Barbara?" Alexa would use CanFulfillIntentRequest to ask surfing skills whether they can both understand and fulfill the request. A surfing skill with a database of California beaches should be able to do both and would subsequently be chosen.

It also uses machine-learning to know which skill is best suited to the individual user.

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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