Amazon’s working on ways to make its Alexa digital assistant way smarter, meaning you may be able to have actual conversations with your Echo smart speaker in the very near future.
Amazon reveals plans to make Alexa even smarter at the Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday (via Variety). Head scientist Rohit Prasad showed off Alexa’s advanced conversational abilities in a video that followed a woman as she planned an evening out. The woman is shown asking the smart assistant for local movie listings, finding showtimes that matched her schedule, buying the tickets, finding a restaurant and reserving a table all in one seamless conversation.
Read our review of the Amazon Echo Dot
Alexa was always intended to be a robot with a personality. The smart assistant was designed to be a voice that you can have a chat with rather than a basic voice-activated search engine. The company even has a team dedicated to molding Alexa’s personality with her opinions changing based on where you’re located – Alexa’s favourite beer in Germany is not the same as her favourite beer in the US.
Devices and services senior vice president Dave Limp knocked competitor Google when he pointed out that it would have been a lot easier for engineers to program the smart assistant to respond to the words “Okay, Amazon” than “Alexa”.
Related: Google Assistant vs Alexa
Amazon has also been making progress in continued conversations to accommodate for these longer interactions, Limp noted that “your conversation doesn’t stop when you move from your kitchen to sit down and watch Game of Thrones in your living room”. Alexa wants to watch Game of Thrones too.
The company has added technology to allow consumers to associate their Alexa with specific rooms and has gone to lengths to ensure that the correct device answers when you call using a feature called Echo Spatial Perception.
“We imagine a future where you would be able to naturally converse with Alexa,” announced Prasad. Describing recent advancements as “a big leap for conversational AI”.
However, Limp acknowledged that it will take years for Alexa “to get more and more conversational” and explained that we are still at the beginning as far as seamless conversation goes.
The night out themed experience demonstrated in the video and other tailored conversations will be rolling out to smart devices in the coming months.