From sleep habits to pets, Amazon devices are learning more. Much more

Lauren Rosenblatt, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

Amazon is using tech to get even closer to its customers.

It introduced a new sleep tracker, Halo Rise, that learns breathing patterns and senses room conditions to help users optimize sleep. Astro, its home robot, will soon be able to recognize doors, windows, pets and furniture in a user's home.

A new iteration of Blink, its home-security camera, will come with a 360 degree view to capture every corner of a room. And Amazon's Alexa will soon be smart enough — and understand human conversation well enough — to write its own stories when prompted by a customer.

"We want customers to enjoy the here and now — and I can tell you it's working," Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices and services at Amazon, said Wednesday at the company's annual devices launch event, where it introduces new products and new upgrades that users can expect in the coming months.

This year, Amazon focused on "ambient intelligence," or the idea that technology keeps running in the background, picking up user's habits and preferences over time to provide more services and benefits as it learns.

"Technology needs to be personalized and intuitive enough to adapt to you and your environment — not the other way around," Limp said. "We call this ambient intelligence."


"A true ambient experience is invisible and works behind the scenes," said Heather Zorn, the vice president for Alexa. "Everything we show you today is built with those ideas in mind."

For Amazon's Alexa, ambient technology means understanding more words, images and context clues. It's been trained on Amazon's product catalog so when a user is shopping and says "Alexa, show me the one-shoulder top" it can pick out the right item. It can offer prompts and character choices to kids and then generate stories "using context to inform how the story develops," Zorn said.

BMW announced Wednesday its next generation voice assistant will be built on Alexa technology.

Astro, Amazon's home robot introduced at the 2021 devices event, is also learning more about its environment so it can do more for users. Rather than just learning the layout of a home, it's going to soon be able to learn about objects in the home — where they belong and what they do.


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