Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, can transform into Santa Claus especially for this festive season, the tech giant has revealed. Users can say'Alexa, enable Hey Santa' to hear him tell a story, sing a song, crack a joke, set a timer and more, as if he's speaking down the phone from the North Pole. The fun festive feature is sure to be particularly exciting for youngsters who want proof that Father Christmas exists in the run-up to the big day. Users can also ask Alexa a range of Christmas-themed questions such as'Alexa, where is Santa?' or'Alexa, how many days until Christmas?', The new Alexa feature lets families interact with Santa over the festive season, as if he's speaking down the phone from the North Pole'We've introduced Santa, a new personality for Alexa that will bring Christmas cheer for the whole family,' Amazon said.
Tech giant Amazon unveiled several new products on Tuesday, including a $1,500 autonomous robot that can monitor a person's home for intruders. Undoubtedly the cutest product making an appearance on Tuesday was its Alexa-powered robot, called Astro – although it's available to purchase by invite for people in the U.S., meaning interested customers have to sign up to have a chance to buy. The $1,450 robot uses intelligent motion to check-in on your home while you're away and give alerts about any disturbances. It can move autonomously around your home, navigate to check in on specific areas, show a live view of rooms through the Astro app, or send alerts if it detects an unrecognized person. Astro uses its digital eyes on its rotating screen, body movements, and expressive tones to communicate, according to Amazon.
Amazon is adding new features to Alexa that would allow the smart assistant to listen for the sound of kids turning on an Xbox, and automatically give them a chore list. The latest move is part of a series of measures by Amazon designed to make it more'passive', having it do more automatically without human intervention. Speaking at Web Summit 2021, which is being held in Lisbon this week, Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President of the Alexa division, said the firm wants people to have to talk to Alexa less. One of the new features taking it in this direction involves'passive sounds,' made from audio files people record around their own home that then trigger a Routine. 'Lets say you are a parent and want to make sure your kids do their chores,' he explained.
Amazon has launched its long-awaited home robot, named Astro, that can autonomously drive around your home packed with cameras and a screen. Astro can map your home's layout, recognise objects and check on loved ones and pets remotely using a series of cameras and a display on its front, featuring a set of expressive animated eyes. The robot can handle video calls, recognising you and coming to find you when someone calls, and provides all the features of Alexa on wheels. But Dave Limp, head of Amazon's devices and services, said "customers don't just want Alexa on wheels so we've embodied it with a unique persona that's all its own". Moving at up to one metre a second, Astro can also act as a security robot.
Over the course of an hour on Tuesday, September 28, Amazon rolled out a raft of new smart home products, including an Alexa-powered robot, a wall-mountable Echo smart display, an interactive video phone for kids, the first video doorbell from its Blink division, new home-security products from its Ring subsidiary, and more. Artificial intelligence--Amazon calls it "ambient" intelligence--was a common thread running through all these new products. The company says this will enable its disparate products to work together seamlessly to deliver an experience that's more than the sum of its parts. But with a nod to consumers' growing privacy concerns, each presenter emphasized the ways in which Amazon's development teams had focused on reducing their products' reliance on cloud computing, pushing more processing power to the device itself to keep information local and within the users' control. Here's a quick recap of the most significant new product announcements, along with links to our deeper dives.