Amazon brought its slate of product updates public at their annual Device Event 2023 in their new HQ2 in Crystal City, VA outside of Washington, DC.
At the top of the list are updates to the company’s popular Echo and the familiar virtual assistant Alexa.
Artificial Intelligence was the common theme with the additions as Amazon touted the use of a home-built Large Language Model to enhance Alexa interactions.
Cameras embedded into the Echo will enable Alexa to “look” at the person it is interacting with, taking in body language, eye contact, and gestures.
Like many Gen AI chatbots, Alexa will provide continuity of conversation, remembering the last question and continuing with additional responses based on the flow of the conversation.
With a focus on extending its catalog of voice-activated devices, the Echo will allow complex multi-step tasks that can be set up and invoked using Alexa.
For instance, routines can be set up for users’ daily activities such as alarms to wake users up at a given time, automatically giving news briefs, and turning on Alexa-enabled devices such as fans, lights, and even coffee pots.
The Echo Show, the Echo with a TV screen, that allows users to have video calls now adds the ability to translate conversations with foreign speakers in real-time.
For an upcharge, Amazon offers Alexa Emergency Assistant which allows users to call for help via voice command assuming the user connects its Echo to a phone line.
For those users heading back to the office after the pandemic, Alexa offers dog-sitting services through the Calm Your Dog app which plays soothing music if barking is detected for more than a minute.
All in all, the new features are sure to appeal to the millions that own Echo devices worldwide.