In a bid to stay ahead in the highly competitive digital assistant market, Amazon.com Inc has rolled out a range of fresh devices and upgraded its voice assistant, Alexa, with advanced generative artificial intelligence.

This move comes as competition intensifies from rivals like Google’s Bard and aims to make the previously unprofitable product more appealing to users.

The revamped Alexa promises to shed its robotic tone, which has persisted for nearly a decade, and respond to queries with a more human-like conversational tone. It will now be capable of handling diverse tasks such as providing the start times for football games, suggesting recipe ideas, and even composing and reciting poems.

Amazon showcased these improvements during the company’s annual product launch event in Arlington, Virginia.

Although Amazon introduced Alexa back in 2014, it has struggled to consistently monetize the technology, often directing users to its e-commerce platform for additional purchases.

Typically accessed through smart speakers or enabled televisions, Alexa offers spoken responses to user questions, including weather updates, and acts as a central hub for home appliance control.

With the emergence of Open AI’s Chat GPT and similar chatbots that provide detailed written responses to complex inquiries, Amazon recognized the need to enhance Alexa’s capabilities. “You can now engage in near-human-like conversations with Alexa,” said Dave Limp, Amazon’s hardware chief, during the event.

This development comes on the heels of a Reuters report indicating declining morale within Amazon’s hardware unit due to shifting strategies and concerns about the company’s ability to create popular consumer devices.

Many upcoming products, sources say, are designed primarily to incorporate Alexa into more areas of the home, such as a carbon monoxide detector with built-in Alexa support.

Limp, who is set to depart from the company by year-end, demonstrated a new feature that allows users to ask a series of questions without repeatedly using the “Alexa” wake word. This feature is available on select Alexa devices, including the refreshed Echo Show 8.

Amazon also introduced several other updates and devices during the event, including refreshed versions of children’s Fire tablets, a sound bar for televisions, and enhanced search capabilities on the Fire TV service to discover free content.

Among the notable additions is the $180 Echo Hub, a wall-mounted touchscreen designed to control various smart devices throughout the home. Amazon also showcased a new feature in the Alexa app that can map out all internet-connected devices in a user’s home, simplifying device management.

Additionally, Amazon presented updates to the Echo Frames eyeglasses, featuring built-in Alexa, as well as refreshed versions of its Blink outdoor security cameras and Eero Wi-Fi extenders.

Last Updated: 21 September 2023