Amazon Rolls Out Generative AI Alexa, Launches New Speakers Inc. made a pitch to keep Alexa relevant in the age of generative artificial intelligence, promising a set of features that will make the software more conversational.

| Updated on: Sep 20 2023, 23:03 IST
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icon View all Images Inc. previewed a push into generative artificial intelligence with new features for its Alexa voice assistant. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg (Bloomberg) Inc. made a pitch to keep Alexa relevant in the age of generative artificial intelligence, promising a set of features that will make the software more conversational.

During an event Wednesday at the company's campus in Arlington, Virginia, outgoing devices chief Dave Limp demonstrated a coming feature, called Let's Chat, that's designed to handle a back-and-forth conversation.

Limp showed off an apparently live interaction with a screen-based Alexa device in which he asked it a series of facts about his (and the software's) favorite football teams, that ended with a request for Alexa to compose a message to a friend. Most of the answers relied on a core piece of Alexa's existing programming — finding and surfacing facts — though the running conversation and contextual comprehension appeared to exceed the system's current capabilities.

“You can now have near human-like interactions with Alexa,” Limp said.

Amazon is keen to show that Alexa can compete with chatbots from OpenAI and Google that have shown a remarkable ability to hold human-like conversations with users. Amazon's voice software, released almost a decade ago, has proved expert at summoning trivia or playing music. But those who try to use Alexa for more complicated tasks often come away frustrated.

The system demonstrated by Limp learns about its users, so if they ask Alexa how their favorite football team is doing, the assistant already knows which team the person is referring to. The demonstration also showed how conversations could continue based on preceding interactions, bypassing the typical need to again provide context and summon the device with the Alexa wake word.

Like ChatGPT, the system can also send text from the user to others. For instance, the demonstration showed a screen-based version of Alexa writing an invitation to come over and watch a football game.Amazon also demonstrated coming features that will let users complete smart-home tasks — like setting up a wake-up routine or requesting spooky lighting — by speaking naturally.

Amazon also announced:

  • Echo Show 8 smart-home device — a speaker-screen combo — with a redesigned interface and improved sound. The gadget uses computer vision to change its interface based on how close a person is standing to the screen. For instance, if someone is far away, a weather app shows the temperature. But if a user comes closer, it will show the forecast for the rest of the day. The new model is priced at $149.99 and will begin shipping in October.
  • Emergency Assist, which lets users call for emergency help hands-free via Alexa. The system will cost $5.99 per month or $59 per year. It will also have the ability to automatically reach preset emergency contacts. The system rivals Apple's latest emergency features, which operate similarly on iPhones.
  • Updated Echo Frames smart glasses that can take calls and play music and look far more like regular spectacles. The new model, starting at $269.99, includes up to six hours of media playback and improved audio.
  • revamped search experience for Fire TV that integrates a new AI-based large language model. For example, it can show which movies are free, good for teenagers or ones the user hasn't yet watched, according to a live demonstration. The company said it has sold over 200 million Fire TV devices.
  • $119.99 sound bar for TVs as well as a new Fire TV Stick 4K with a 30% faster chip and compatibility with WiFi 6 wireless networks. The Fire TV Stick Max boasts an even faster processor, support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio, connectivity with WiFi 6E and additional storage.
  • eero Max 7, one of the first WiFi 7 routers to become available. It will go on sale for the holiday season and come in packs of 1, 2 or 3.
  • Echo Hub, a new wall mountable device that controls smart-home devices and monitors security cameras. The device has an 8-inch screen and is compatible with over 140,000 smart home devices. $179.99.

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First Published Date: 20 Sep, 22:56 IST