Amazon announces Alexa AI – 5 things you need to know about the voice assistant
During the big Amazon September 2023 device event, the tech giant revealed that Alexa will be getting a major upgrade as the company plans on implementing a new large language model (LLM) into the tech assistant.
The tech giant is seeking to improve Alexa’s capabilities by making it “more intuitive, intelligent, and useful”. The LLM will allow it to behave similarly to a generative AI in order to provide real-time information as well as understand nuances in speech. Amazon says its developers sought to make the user experience less robotic.
There is a lot to the Alexa update besides the LLM, as it will also be receiving a lot of features. Below is a list of the five things you absolutely need to know about Alexa’s future.
1. Natural conversations
In what may be the most impactful change, Amazon is making a number of improvements to Alexa’s voice in an effort to make it sound more fluid. It will lack the robotic intonation people are familiar with.
You can listen to the huge difference in quality on the company’s Soundcloud page. The first sample showcases the voice Alexa has had for the past decade or so since it first launched. The second clip is what it’ll sound like next year when the update launches. You can hear the robot voice enunciate a lot better, with more apparent emotion behind.
2. Understanding context
Having an AI that understands context is important because it makes the process of issuing commands easier. Moving forward, Alexa will be able to better understand nuances in speech. It will know what you’re talking about even if you don’t provide every minute detail.
Users can issue vague commands – like saying “Alexa, I’m cold” to have the assistant turn up the heat in your house. Or you can tell the AI it’s too bright in the room and it will automatically dim the lights only in that specific room.
3. Improved smart home control
In the same vein of understanding context, “Alexa will be able to process multiple smart home requests.” You can create routines at specific times of the day plus you won’t need a smartphone to configure them. It can all be done on the fly.
You can command the assistant to turn off the lights, lower the blinds in the house, and tell the kids to get ready for bed at 9 pm. It will perform those steps in that order, on the dot. Users also won’t need to repeat Alexa’s name over and over for every little command.
4. New accessibility features
Amazon will be introducing a variety of accessibility features for customers who have “hearing, speech, or mobility disabilities.” The one that caught our interest was Eye Gaze, allowing people to perform a series of pre-set actions just by look at their device. Actions include playing music or sending messages to contacts. Eye Gaze will, however, be limited to Fire Max 11 tablets in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan at launch.
There is also Call Translation, which, as the name suggests, will translate languages in audio and video calls in real-time. In addition to acting as an interpreter, this tool is said to help deaf people “communicate remotely more easily.” This feature will be available to Echo Show and Alexa app users across eight countries (the US, Mexico, and the UK just to mention a few) in 10 languages, including English, Spanish, and German.
5. Content creation
Since the new Alexa will operate on LLM technology, it will be capable of light content creation via skills.
Through the Character.AI tool, users can engage in “human-like voice conversations with [over] than 25 unique Characters.” You can chat with specific archetypes, from a fitness coach to famous people like Albert Einstein.
Music production will be possible, too, via Splash. Through voice commands, Splash can create a track according to your specifications. You can then customize the song further by adding a vocal track or by changing genres.
It’s unknown exactly when the Alexa upgrade will launch. Amazon says everything you see here and more will come out in 2024. We have reached out for clarification and will update this story if we learn anything new.
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