Amazon Unveils Image Recognition, Voice-Activated Cloud Services

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(Bloomberg) — Amazon.com Inc. introduced an image recognition service, a speech-to-text service dubbed Polly and “Lex,” which will let customers build conversational apps similar to its Alexa voice-activated platform.

Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of the Amazon Web Services unit, introduced the new cloud computing products Wednesday at the company’s fifth annual re:Invent conference, which drew 32,000 people from diverse industries to Las Vegas. He pitched Amazon’s wide breadth of services and ability to customize them for clients, while poking fun at a company Amazon considers a cloud pretender — Oracle Corp. A slide in Jassy’s presentation that highlighted the “ability to see through the hand-waving and bombast” featured a photo of Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison popping up intermittently.

SEE ALSO: With Customers in Focus, AWS CEO Looks to Future of Public Cloud

The event drew people from financial services, health care, gaming and other industries interested in learning more about how to use cloud computing, and let Amazon flex its muscles as a market leader in the fast-growing industry. Public cloud spending is expected to increase almost 17 percent to $204 billion this year, according to researcher Gartner Inc.

Amazon is trying to maintain its lead over Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and IBM as more companies transition from using their servers to renting computing power and data space hosted remotely, which they access via the internet. Movie-service Netflix Inc. is a prominent example of a web company powered by Amazon Web Services. Capital One Financial Corp. announced Tuesday it would transition more of its data to Amazon, highlighting growing interest of the financial sector in the speed and flexibility of cloud computing.

Amazon’s Web Services division is the Seattle-based company’s fastest-growing and most profitable source of revenue, offsetting regular quarterly losses from its e-commerce operation. Cloud computing revenue is projected to top $10 billion this year.

Amazon’s new AI services will let customers create applications hosted on Amazon Web Services that understand what’s displayed in photos and what users are saying. Microsoft offers the ability to bake similar artificial intelligence into applications run on its Azure cloud services and Google earlier this year launched business tools and products based on its own AI technology to entice more companies to rent its cloud-computing services.

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