During a press event this morning at its HQ2 headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, Amazon announced that it’ll soon use a new generative AI model to power improved experiences across its Echo family of devices.
“Our latest model has been specifically optimized for voice and the things we know our customers love — like having access to real-time information, efficiently controlling their smart home, and getting the most out of their home entertainment,” Dave Limp, the SVP of devices and services at Amazon, said onstage.
Amazon says that the new model will power more conversational experiences — experiences that take into account body language as well as a person’s eye contact and gestures. It’ll interact with APIs to enable new smart home capabilities, inferring the meaning of descriptions like “spooky” lighting. And it’ll give Alexa a bigger — and more opinionated — personality.
“The capabilities … deliver unique experiences based on the preferences that you’ve shared, the services that you’ve interacted with and the information about the environment in and around your home,” Limp said. “This [new model] will allow you to surface personal reminders. For example, it can help you with recently-played music, or even come up with recipe recommendations based on your grocery purchases.”
During a demo, Limp asked an Alexa device connected to the new generative AI model “What’s your favorite sports team?” After a brief a hiccup with the event Wi-Fi, Alexa responded to that and follow-up questions about Seahawks stats and game times — even after Limp paused to address the audience and then returned to the conversation with Alexa.
Limp didn’t cover it during the demo. But the new generative AI model can also adjust its tone and response to express things like affirmation, excitement, laughter and surprise, Amazon says — adjusting to a person’s natural pauses and hesitation to deliver an ostensibly more free-flowing conversation.
Soon, customers in the U.S. will get access to these new capabilities through a free preview on Echo devices they already own, Amazon says.