Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Alexa’s creator says it needs to explore the world to be truly smart

Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, hasn’t had a bad start in life. In part due to Amazon’s seemingly perpetual sale on all things Echo, Alexa has found its way into an awful lot of homes, but you don’t have to live with it for very long to bump up against its obvious limitations.

The father of Alexa, Amazon’s vice president and head scientist of Alexa artificial intelligence, Rohit Prasad, dropped an interesting hint of how these limitations could be lifted at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital AI conference in San Francisco. “The only way to make smart assistants really smart is to give it eyes and let it explore the world,” he said.

Related: Google Home vs Amazon Echo

Of course Alexa already has eyes of sorts in some devices – the Echo Show devices with cameras, for example. So what’s next?  Prasad didn’t elaborate on that, but it’s hard not to see it as an ambition – however far fetched it appears at the moment – to give Alexa a robot body, making it a virtual assistant that can not just tell you things, but move around and perhaps one day perform simple tasks.

That matches up with rumours of Amazon’s long-term plans for Alexa. A report from Bloomberg last year discussed a “top-secret” internal project codenamed Vesta, being developed by Lab126, Amazon’s hardware R&D centre. The report discussed prototypes that could navigate from room to room autonomously, like driverless cars. Only smaller.

Related: Best multi-room speaker

It’s not clear what the advantage of this would be yet, other than avoiding the  need to buy multiple Echo devices, but it’s a tantalising possible future. And Prasad’s words suggest that Amazon is well aware of the potential.

Does Alexa need a robot body? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.