Amazon unveils AI-powered human-like Alexa and more

Amazon introduced more than a dozen new AI features for its staples Alexa and Echo Wednesday, including an all-new lineup of smart glasses, smart home devices, and product refreshes for its Amazon kids line.

The e-commerce and technology giant introduced the upgrades live from its annual Devices & Services event in Arlington, Virginia.

The biggest changes announced are the 18 plus new AI-powered features embedded in its flagship Amazon Alexa and Echo devices, meant to change the way people “interact with their homes.”

Alexa programming is now based on a new large language model that’s been “custom-built and specifically optimized for voice interactions, getting real-time information, efficient smart home control, and maximizing their home entertainment,” the company said.

Amazon AI products
Image by Amazon

The new AI-generated hardware gives Alexa human chatbot-like capabilities, allowing customers to engage with the device in a more natural and intuitive way where it can make inferences, remember your conversations, and adapt to your preferences over time, Amazon said.

"You can now have near-human-like conversations with Alexa," Amazon's hardware chief, Dave Limp, said at the event.

A new innovative Eye Gaze feature was also added to Alexa for those with speech disabilities.

“Eye Gaze on Alexa will allow customers to gaze at their tablet to perform pre-set Alexa actions, like playing music and shows, controlling their home environment, and communicating with loved ones – entirely hands- and voice-free,” the company said.

Other Alexa AI features include call translation, Alexa Emergency Assist, an AI music service called Spash, where one can create customizable music in seconds, and an alternate AI art creation service designed for Fire TV.

For the home, Amazon introduced its first new Alexa-enabled smart home control panel called the Echo Hub.

Alexa has also been integrated into a new line of “seven stylish” Echo frame smart glasses that allow the user to direct Alexa to do tasks like turn off the lights or play music by just tapping the frames.

The Seattle-based company also put the focus on its Amazon Kids+ line with Echo Pop Kids, a new kid-friendly program on the device with exclusive interactive content, including Morning Routines and Sleep Sounds. There are also two Disney-themed Fire tablets made especially for kids.

At the event, Amazon additionally introduced the Show (an Echo with a screen), a speaker for televisions, new search capabilities on the FireTV service to find free content, and a refreshed line of Ring doorbells, which includes a new Stick-up Cam, and Blink outdoor security cameras and lighting.

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