Amazon Echo Show Boosts Alexa AI With Touchscreen

Amazon is extending its Echo and smart virtual assistant Alexa ambitions with the debut of the Echo Show.

Mixing in the Echo’s speakers voice controlled capabilities with a digital display, the Echo Show looks reminiscent of a device from a 70s sci-fi show and perhaps lacks the simple ergonomics and design of the original Echo or that of its rival Google Home.

Amping up the Echo

But the goal of the Echo Show is to display video content, say news clips, at the behest of a voice command, or through connections to other smart devices show video feeds from smart home cameras or baby monitors. A built-in 5MP camera can also be used to set up video calls.

Very much a consumer device in its current guise, the Echo Show does potentially open up the Alexa ecosystem to more developers given that it brings vision as well as sound into the Echo mix.

However, the initial reaction to the Echo Show’s design is not exactly positive, so developer may want to hold fire before cooking up some display-centric Alexa enabled apps.

The Echo Show is set to hit the US on 28 June and will set back buyers by $229 (£176), but there is no word on when the Echo Show will reach UK shores.

But the original Echo speaker is also gaining some new abilities.

Aiming to take the hands-free concept of calling to a new level, users of the Echo will be able to make and answer calls from the Amazon app and one Alexa-enabled device to another by simply barking commands at the Echo such as “Alexa answer”.

Alternatively, people trying to avoid communication can simply tell the Alexa to ignore an incoming call.

This could add more scope to how developers integrate Alexa and Echo compatible interactions into their apps.

With a new Echo device on the horizon and more functionality being added into the current Echo speaker, Amazon is clearly looking to push its Alexa virtual assistant further and build it out with capabilities.

Time will tell how advanced Alexa will get, but with artificial intelligence (AI) being put to use in increasingly different situations, we would not be surprised to see a business-centric Echo device or Alexa service surface in the near-future.

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Roland Moore-Colyer

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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