Amazon is in the process of implementing a new ‘adaptive volume’ feature for its ubiquitous Alexa personal assistant.
If your Echo speaker (or other Alexa-featuring device) detects that the surrounding environment is particularly noisy, it will crank its response volume up accordingly.
Given that many people use their Alexa devices in kitchens, living rooms, and other potentially rowdy environments, the feature can’t come soon enough. Adaptive volume should help you hear more clearly above washing machines, noisy kids, and more.
In terms of availability, Amazon has made adaptive volume available to its home US audience, but you’ll need to activate it. Just say “Alexa, turn on adaptive volume”. Presumably the feature will be rolling out to other countries soon.
Don’t confuse ‘adaptive volume’ for Amazon’s ‘adaptive sound’ feature, which serves to make the likes of the Amazon Echo (4th Generation) sound better according to the current acoustics of the room.
It’s also worth mentioning that something similar to this adaptive sound feature has been available to Amazon’s main rivals for some time. Google’s smart speakers, such as the Google Nest Audio, have long had the benefit of Ambient IQ, which similarly tunes its spoken output according to the surrounding volume.
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As The Verge points out, Amazon isn’t making any noises about its own Adaptive Volume feature working in the opposite direction. In other words, there’s no indication that your Echo speaker will quieten down when it detects that things are a little more subdued.
Perhaps Amazon figures that modern life is just too hectic for that to be a sufficiently common scenario.