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Amazon Alexa Could be a Super Assistant but Not Yet | by Tapaan Chauhan | Jun, 2021

These new capabilities were demonstrated across a series of demonstrations. The first shows off how users can teach Alexa after it asks clarifying questions directly. In the presentation, Alexa was asked to “set the light to Rohit’s reading mode.” The voice assistant was able to understand that it did not know what this reading mode was meant to be and asked the clarifying question, “What do you mean by ‘Rohit’s reading mode’?” So Rohit answered to Alexa’s question. As a result, Alexa was able to remember and store the given information.

Another upgrade focuses on making Alexa sound more natural by understanding the conversation’s context and adjusting its tone accordingly. Alexa might place more stress on certain words or take more pauses, Amazon says. A final demonstration showed two people asking Alexa to join their conversation. After this, the voice assistant could understand when it was directly addressed, versus when the two people talked to each other. All of this happened without them having to use Alexa’s wake word in the middle of the conversation.

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Amazon typically announces a number of upgrades for Alexa at its major hardware events, alongside smaller updates that appear throughout the year. Last year, the company announced a range of new features for its voice assistant, including a unique and more natural-sounding voice. A multilingual mode is designed for bilingual households, and a “frustration detection” feature lets Alexa apologize when it gets your requests wrong. Oh, and who could forget the special Samuel L. Jackson voice skill (which was then expanded this year)?

Over the course of 2020, Amazon also announced some more minor updates for Alexa. The voice assistant received a new long-form speaking style designed for content like podcasts in April. Just this month, Amazon announced Alexa for Residential, a new program to make it easier to integrate Alexa devices into rental properties.

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