Amazon has unveiled a whole new lineup of Alexa-powered devices, extending from homes and cars to wearable devices. It also introduced a celebrity voice option for the popular digital assistant. The lineup of hardware devices includes new Echo smart speakers and screens, other smart home and connected devices, Alexa earbuds, glasses, a smart ring, and a new Alexa-powered oven.
In a product launch in Seattle, Washington, Alexa was the star. Amazon sought to widen the reach of its digital assistant powered by artificial intelligence amid a battle with rivals from Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others.
Take a look at everything Amazon unveiled at its 25th September Alexa event.
Amazon tweaked Alexa using machine learning to speak more like a person and will offer celebrity voices. The first of these voices will be that of star actor Samuel L. Jackson.
Amazon began rolling out bilingual capabilities for Alexa. This means it can now perform in Spanish as well as English in the US; French along with English in Canada, and Hindi along with English in India. The vice president of devices and services, Dave Limp, made this known.
The celebrity voice option from Amazon follows a similar move by Google. That gave users the option of hearing celebrity singer John Legend on the Google Assistant last year.
Along with beefing up the Echo and Ring lines, Amazon introduced earbuds. It touted the earbuds as the first wearable, hands-free Alexa experience on the go. The $130 (₦46,865) wearable devices will work with Google or Apple smart assistant software already on smartphones.
Amazon also infused its voice assistant prototype eyeglass frames on display at the media event along. There was also an enhanced array of Echo smart speakers.
The company also pledged to make user privacy a priority. This is a direct response to fears about how technology companies collect and use voice data.
“Privacy is foundational to everything we do around Alexa,” Limp said as he unveiled devices launching for the year-end holiday shopping season.
Later this year, Amazon will add a “Home Mode” feature to its Ring smart cameras. They will stop the devices from recording any video or audio until directed otherwise.
Amazon added the ability to ask the voice-commanded digital assistant why it did something or to reveal what it has heard. Alexa also got a feature that has it automatically delete voice recordings at specific intervals.
“If you invite an always-listening, cloud-driven artificial intelligence into your life, you are going to encounter some privacy issues,” said Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart. “It’s Amazon’s responsibility to mitigate them as much as they can; it was good to see some of the initiatives they rolled out.”
Because people so often ask for the time, Amazon introduced a version of its Echo Dot smart speaker with an illuminated clock.
Alexa was also enhanced with the ability to tell when people are frustrated with her and try to make nice with the those issuing misunderstood commands.
A new Echo Studio with sophisticated, rich sound quality was added to the lineup for $200 (₦72,100). The new Echo Studio is Amazon’s response to Google’s Nest Max and Apple’s HomePod.
There were also new Ring home cameras and small Alexa devices plugged into outlets to extend the digital assistant’s realm.
Amazon smart oven
What’s an Amazon event without a new Alexa-powered oven, right? This time around, Amazon takes on the June Oven with a $250 (₦90,125) combination convection oven, microwave, air fryer, and food warmer. Once paired with Echo, you can ask Alexa to do things like preheat the oven, start or stop the cooking, and more.
“Certified for Humans”
Amazon also announced a “Certified for Humans” program. It identifies devices that people without tech skills can set up and use without hassle.
Limp provided a glimpse at “Amazon Sidewalk” technology the company is working on to extend WiFi or Bluetooth signals beyond the walls of homes to reach gadget in yards or even pets gone astray.
“Amazon’s sheer volume and variety of smart home products puts them in most of the major smart home zones — comfort, security, entertainment, and kitchen,” said Forrester analyst Frank Gillett. “That means Amazon alone is contending for a wider footprint in the smart home than any other player.”
Catch up on the event below in five minutes as narrated by Tech Insider.