‘Superhuman’: New Amazon tech released


Amazon has released a “superhuman” assistant as it rolls out its latest range of tech products.

The new Echo Hub and the latest versions of the Fire TV Stick were among the announcements at the HQ2 event in Washington today led by Amazon’s senior vice president David Limp.

Alexa is now supercharged with a large language model as the generative artificial intelligence boom continues to sweep the tech industry.

The change is significant as more than a billion devices are connected to Amazon’s virtual assistant, with tens of millions of interactions every hour.

Users access music, smart-home technology, information and engage in shopping.

Amazon’s announcement comes as the big three American tech companies all release their latest products.

Apple last week released a suite of new products including the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, Apple Watch Ultra 2, Apple Watch Series 9 and AirPods Pro.

Next week, Meta will announce new products with a keynote at Meta Connect in Menlo Park.

So what’s new from Amazon?

Huge overhaul for Alexa

Amazon says it has worked hard to make Alexa more conversational, better with real-world applications, more personalised and packed full of personality.

Powered by generative AI, Alexa now has some of the cool features that have made Chat GPT so popular. It can write you a poem, or a story — and give you up to date information about the best time to go on holiday.

It’s quite the feat for Amazon as Alexa not only tells you things — like Chat GPT — but it actually does things as well.

It’s also much easier to use. You can interrupt Alexa mid-conversation, and give her new directions which are quickly incorporated.

And, thankfully, you don’t have to keep repeating “Alexa”. Instead, you just look at the screen and on-device visual processing works out if you’re addressing the device.

The text to speech engine also sounds much more realistic, and less robotic.

Echo Hub

The Echo Hub is an Alexa-enabled smart home control panel. It has an 8-inch touch screen display and a customisable dashboard.

The device is mounted on the wall and is designed – as the name suggests – to be the central nervous system of all the smart devices in your home. Popular smart home commands like turning on a light can be completed in just 300 milliseconds.

When it’s not being actively used, it doubles as a gallery and a clock — with photos on rotation as well as weather info and the time.

It uses infra-red tech to detect whether a user is close and automatically changes back to the home screen.

Amazon says it is compatible with 10,000 different devices such as cameras, lights and speakers.

Echo Show 8 redesign

Amazon has redesigned the Echo, centring the camera on the front for better video calls.

Audio has also been upgraded to shut out unwanted background noise.

New technology senses the acoustics of the room and can fine tune playback based on that information.

The screen on the Echo is also adaptive — it changes based on how close you are to the device. If you’re far away you’ll get a display just showing essential data, like the latest weather information.

As you get closer, the content automatically transitions, Limp explained.

Alexa also responds much faster because language is stored locally on the device.

Stuff for kids

Amazon also announced the Echo Pop Kids, a device aimed at children, which comes in either Marvel or Disney (with princesses like Moana) designs.

Kids can ask trivia questions and ask for jokes.

There are also two new tablets, the Fire HD 10 Kids (for younger children) and the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro (for older children).

They come with 1080p HD displays, 3GB of RAM and will run for about 13 hours.

Amazon is also selling the Music Maker, a device which does exactly what it says on the box.

Echo Frames and Carrera Smart Glasses with Alexa

A next-gen Echo Frames device was unveiled as well. The smart glasses are powered by Alexa, are thinner (and therefore lighter) and have a longer battery life.

The battery can provide six hours of continuous media playback.

The audio is also better and there are more style options available.

Sound will now be directed straight to your ears, so you can hear easily without others snooping.

Amazon also partnered with glasses brand Carrera to make some snazzy new frames.

Fire stick 4K Max Fire Stick 4K

First of all, streaming stick Fire TV has a new search model that works kind of like a Blockbuster staff member — remember them?

You can ask for a list of movies that you haven’t seen yet, then — for example — refine that search for free-to-watch or family friendly movies. It can also make suggestions based on movies similar to another that you like.

On the tech front, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max comes with the Fire TV Ambient Experience.

The processor is a beefy 2.0 GHz quad-core.

It supports Wi-Fi 6E, making it much faster.

The new Fire TV Stick 4K Max also has double the storage of the previous generation at 16GB. That means you can store more stuff on your device such as apps and games.

The Fire TV Ambient Experience means your TV can double as an art gallery, with heaps of images from famous artists from all over the world, similar to how Google Chrome shows featured images.

The Fire TV Stick 4K is slightly less powerful with a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor.

It supports 4K Ultra HD picture quality, has Dolby Atmos audio and supports a variety of modes.

Security cameras

Amazon recently announced Blink Outdoor 4.

One of the features of the camera is that it only records people — not roving animals. That helps save battery life. A new battery extension pack means the battery can last for four years.

Some of the best features on the new Blink are the improved image quality and better motion detection.

Amazon also announced Blink Sync Module Pro, which helps extend the range of where you can position the Blink Outdoor 4.

That device is coming out next year.

Amazon also launched the Blink Outdoor 4 Floodlight Camera, which as the name suggests, lights up your yard.

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