BENGALURU : The number of ‘smart home’ customers using Alexa in India has grown sixfold in the last 12 months.

Alexa is a voice-controlled virtual assistant developed by e-commerce major Amazon, which can be accessed via Amazon Echo smart speakers.

According to data shared by the company, based on their Diwali sales this year, smart lights were one of the highest selling products on the website. Smart TVs, lights, plugs and remotes that work with Alexa were popular among customers in India, the company said.

During its Great Indian Festival this year, Amazon said it sold five times more Alexa built-in smart speakers, hearables and TVs compared to the previous year.

Alexa and Echo were launched in India in October 2017.

The company says it tested Alexa’s speech recognition capability with multiple Indian accents and evolved its natural language understanding to comprehend the context and intent of words spoken by users in India.

The Alexa AI has also learned more about topics relevant to Indians, including history, holidays and Bollywood movies. Since September, users can interact with Alexa in Hindi and ‘Hinglish’ (a blend of Hindi and English) as well.

Amazon India recently announced that its users can call out to Alexa to make payments of utility bills via Amazon Pay, an online payments processing service.

Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices and Services, said in an interview that the decision to introduce the payments-via-voice commands feature was due to the rapid growth in Amazon Pay transactions in India.

“We saw that the momentum of Amazon Pay was taking off here anyway, and it’s growing very, very fast. The team then got to thinking about the interesting ways that Alexa could use the momentum that’s happening with Amazon Pay, and utilities just made a lot of sense," he said.

India, he added, is one of the first countries where users can interact with Alexa in two different languages.

“We also recently launched dual language support. In a household, some people will speak English, some will speak Hindi, some might speak both and mix the two. So, when you speak in both those languages,

Alexa will do her best to respond back in the appropriate language as well," said Limp.

Limp also said that among the content searched for by users in India, skills and education-based content, devotional content and Amazon Originals, which are made in India, are the most popular.

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