Amazon Gives Alexa Proactive Hunches, Automatic Actions, a Security Service, and More in AI Update

By James White Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Two people talking to a smart home device.

Ecommerce giant and smart home device company Amazon recently rolled out several new features to the echo device, Alexa, an artificial intelligence (AI) virtual assistant built by the business to power a vast assortment of smart devices.

The new features include a subscription home security service, Guard Plus, which starts at $5 a month. Additionally, Amazon’s Alexa can now act on her “hunches” automatically if users choose to enable automatic actions on their devices. Lastly, the Alexa app can now monitor the energy consumption of compatible devices connected to the company’s AI assistant.

Smart Devices Get Smarter on Alexa’s Network

Since Amazon debuted Alexa in 2014, the AI engineered by the ecommerce company has steadily been learning and teaching new skills and helpful functions. In 2019, the business boasted over 100 million Alexa devices sold, though precise device sales numbers have not been disclosed by the company. The virtual assistant AI software from Amazon can control devices all over homes with Alexa, from the lights in the bedroom right down to the microwave in the kitchen.

In the latest set of features rolled out by the company, Alexa can now perform actions without user input by listening to her hunches. If the AI determines one of your devices to be in an “unusual state,” Alexa will automatically correct the issue in the best way she sees fit. The Amazon support page for hunches uses the example of shutting your lights off if they are still on after you say “good night” to your device.

Multiple Smart Home Assistants and Businesses to Choose From

The global smart home technology market size, valued at $78.3 billion in 2020, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6% from 2020 to 2025 and reach $135.3 billion. Amazon is not the only business taking advantage of the booming market. Companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft also offer their own smart home ecosystems and assistants.

Google’s AI assistant, aptly named “Google Assistant,” works with numerous Google phones and smart devices. Microsoft has Cortana, which can be found on computers running the Windows operating system and many third party products that also host Alexa and Google Assistant. Apple’s AI assistant, Siri, is found on the business’s iPhones and HomePod, as well as other compatible devices.

Despite the presence of other massive businesses in the industry, Amazon has successfully led the competition in the past. According to an eMarketer report, 70% of smart speaker users were expected to use an Amazon Echo in 2020, while just 31.7% were expected to use a Google device.

Summary

Ecommerce company Amazon updated its smart home assistant Alexa with new features, including a subscription-based security service, proactive hunches, and an energy monitoring dashboard for devices connected to Alexa. The business continues to lead the smart speaker industry despite competition from other giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

About the Author


Headshot for author James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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