Integrating Amazon Lex with Amazon Lambda – Instinctive Language in the Cloud

Amazon announced in a blog post on April 19 that they had made their natural language tool, Amazon Lex, generally available. First of all, Amazon Lex is – according to the Amazon website – “a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text.” Lex provides natural language understanding and speech recognition; It is part of the core of the implementation of Alexa.

Amazon Lex

Using Amazon Lex and Lambda

Amazon Lex provides integration with Amazon Lambda built in. This enables a developer to use Python or Javascript with Node.js as the back-end for implementation. Two Learning Tree courses discuss development with Amazon Lambda: Expanding AWS Adoption and Developing on AWS.  I discussed my experiences with Amazon Lambda here recently.

Amazon has a tutorial for getting started using Amazon Lex with Lambda. Most of all, the tutorial includes example bots you can play with. There are also instructions for integrating a bot with Facebook Messenger, Twilio SMS, and Slack. Amazon calls these examples “blueprints,” and provides instructions for modifying them. This is a quick way to get started. I used a similar process with my Alexa skill.

The Amazon Lex tutorial makes learning how to integrate Lex and Amazon Lambda easier, while for those who want to use Amazon Lambda for fulfillment (the back-end implementation of a project), input validation, or interfacing with AWS or third-party services, the guidance and feedback from an expert instructor really helps. Learning Tree’s AWS courses fit that bill.

What Can I Do With It?

The applications built with Amazon Lex are generally chatbots. That is, they provide some service to the user via interactive text or voice. Some uses include catalog searches (e.g. for shoes or home improvement materials, both of which seem to require clicking lots of boxes including size, color, etc.), customer service, and natural language integration with other services (you could build a voice controlled slot machine).  Furthermore, these apps can return, text, voice, or “cards” with images, links, and extended information. Amazon has guidance on building chatbots and more ideas on using Amazon Lex.

Enter the Challenge

Right now Amazon is running a contest it calls the “Chatbot Challenge.” From the description:

Therefore, we’re on a mission to find the world’s greatest chatbots. Build a chatbot that can engage your users with lifelike conversational interactions using Amazon Lex and AWS Lambda. Enter your bot to the AWS Chatbot Challenge for a chance to win prizes and more.

Hence, this is a perfect opportunity to work alone or on a team to learn Amazon Lex and Amazon Lambda, implement a chatbot, and win prizes for your efforts.

I am excited about the possibilities of using Lambda with Lex, and I look forward to hearing about your ideas, experiences, and successes with Lex and Lambda.  Please share your experiences with us by mentioning @LearningTree in a tweet, especially if you decide to participate in the challenge.

To your cloud computing,
John McDermott

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