It’s unusual for Amazon to announce “coming soon” features for Alexa, but it looks like they wanted to get the jump on Google before the holiday shopping season.
Anyway, CNET has an excellent round up article of all the features they prE-announced at their recent event, and many are related to Smart home use. Some will only be available with the models that include their zigbee coordinator, but it doesn’t sound like the new features will be limited to zigbee end devices.
We’ll have to wait to get the details and see how well these things actually work, but it’s a fascinating look at where Amazon thinks the smart home is going.
Some of the most interesting:
the zigbee models (echo plus and the second generation show) Will have local voice operation of smart home devices.
tighter video doorbell integration for screen models. “When someone rings the doorbell, you will be able to say, 'Alexa, answer the front door.'A two-way video and audio feed will come to your speaker.” It’s not clear if this will be limited to the ring doorbell, which Amazon now owns, but I would guess probably to begin with
Hunches. This one is the most interesting, but we need a lot more details. The idea is that overtime the AI in Alexa recognizes your smart home patterns. Then when you say a specific voice trigger, it recognizes if you failed to turn on or off something that you usually turn on or off at about that time. “Say you usually turn off the kitchen light before going to bed, but you left it on. When you say, ‘Alexa, good night,’ it might ask you if you want it to turn it off and do it for you.” (Siri already has a somewhat similar feature, but it’s even more proactive, using Reminders .)
It will be interesting to see if this works for regular non-techie households but it’s also interesting to see that they think this is worth preannouncing.
- Guard mode. this is a combination of AI and including the microphone into a security system. The idea is that after you have left the house, echo could recognize an “unusual” sound like glass breaking and then send you a notification if one occurs along with an audio clip of the sound. There are a lot of privacy and potential false alarm issues with this feature, but it’s still interesting. It’s clearly intended as an add on to the ring security system, although they also said they can send the sound clip to ADT if you want them to. I’m not going to prejudge this one: there are too many different details that will matter. But again, it’s interesting that they think people will find this feature attractive enough that it’s worth a pre-announcement.
More features, more details in the following full round up