Amazon is supercharging its devices and services with generative AI. At its September hardware launch event, the world’s largest online retailer announced new Echo and Fire TV devices, revealed how Alexa is getting generative AI, and a number of interesting ways Amazon is bringing the power of LLMMs to offer real-world solutions to its customers. With generative AI, Alexa is set to become a more powerful and ‘conversational’ virtual assistant. Customers will be able to join a preview to test these new generative AI features which will work with all existing Echo devices in the market.
Here’s a roundup of all the major announcements Amazon made at its fall hardware launch event on Wednesday:
All-new Echo Show 8 smart display launched
Amazon kicked off its fall event by announcing the all-new Echo Show 8. The new smart display features spatial audio support and smart home hub functionality. Echo Show 8 can also ‘sense’ acoustics in a room, and adjust the sound output accordingly. It features a new proximity sensor, a front-facing camera at the top with a physical switch to turn off its microphone. The all-new Echo Show 8 is available for pre-orders in the US starting today, priced at $149.
Amazon Alexa gets generative AI capabilities
Amazon Alexa is finally getting generative AI. The company’s generative AI models will be available across all Echo-enabled devices, including the first-generation Echo smart speakers. Amazon says its generative AI model is designed and optimised for voice, and focuses on offering real-time information besides letting consumers control their smart home products more efficiently.
Alexa’s generative AI model will offer a much deeper conversational experience. Amazon will open up its API to allow third-party developers to add their own LLMs to Alexa. The AI model will enable Alexa to offer personal reminders based on user interactions. For example, Alexa will be able to recommend recipes based on your grocery purchases.
Amazon’s outgoing SVP of devices and services division, Dave Lim said that Alexa will now be able to understand conversations and reply back with proper context. Alexa will also be able to respond to multiple requests from one command.
Customers in the United States will get access to these new generative AI features on Alexa via a free preview soon. Amazon hasn’t announced when Echo users in other countries will be able to access these features.
New Fire TV Stick models, Fire TV Soundbar launched
Amazon also announced the launch of its next-generation Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick 4K Max, and a new Fire TV Soundbar. The new Fire TV Stick models are powered by upgraded processors, and promise faster performance compared to previous generation models. Fire TV Stick 4K comes with support for Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi 6, HDR10 and HDR 10 Plus. Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which is just $10 more expensive than the standard 4K stick, offers twice the amount of storage (16GB) and Wi-Fi 6E support.
Fire TV Stick 4K Max is Amazon’s first streaming media player to support the Fire TV Ambient Experience. The feature was earlier limited to customers using Fire TV Omni QLED series TV models. Fire TV Stick 4K is priced at $49.99 and Fire TV Stick 4K Max ($59.99).
Fire TV Soundbar launched
Amazon also announced its new Fire TV Soundbar alongside new Fire TV updates. The new model comes in a compact 24-inch design, and is compatible with all existing Fire TV devices. It also supports Bluetooth connectivity, allowing customers to pair their devices when they’re not streaming content on the TV. The new Fire TV Soundbar is priced at $119.99 in the US.
An upgraded Fire TV experience powered by generative AI
Just like Alexa, Fire TV is also getting generative AI. The new Fire TV experience promises to improve search and recommendations by combining Fire TV’s extensive library with generative AI. Amazon says the new Fire TV experience will make it easier for customers to discover new content in a more conversational way. Customers will be able to ask Alexa to find content based on specific keywords such as actors, specific scenes, genres, etc.
All-new Amazon Echo Frames launched
At its fall event, Amazon announced a new version of its Echo Frames audio glasses. The next-generation Echo Frames now offer up to six hours of battery life. Amazon says you can now pair and switch frames between two devices. Priced starting at $269.99, Amazon’s new Echo Frames audio glass come in five new styles, including prescription-ready and blue light lens.
The new Echo Frames promise a much better audio quality with the new custom-built speakers that can deliver more bass while minimizing outside noise compared to their predecessors. The glasses look much more natural, and are designed to offer a complete hands-free experience.
Amazon Echo Hub smart home control panel announced
Amazon launched its all-new Echo Hub at its fall devices event today. The Echo Hub is the company’s first smart home controller that looks more like a simple touchscreen tablet than a smart display. It can be used to control your smart home experiences. The 8-inch tablet-like device runs the same operating system as the new Echo Show 5. However, it doesn’t come with a camera.
Echo Hub offers a customisable smart home dashboard that lets customers manage their smart home devices using a simple-to-use interface. Echo Hub uses infrared to detect when a customer is nearby, and automatically switches to the Home Screen. When the user is away, it can switch back to a default setting such as a clock. Echo Hub is priced at $179.99 in the US.