Upgraded Alexa pushing the envelope for Smart Home Assistants

Wednesday, 17th February 2021

Smart Homes are a thing of the present and very much the future, and there are an increasing number of outstanding tools to help make your home experience more personalized, seamless and integrated than ever.

At the forefront of this technology is the in-home voice assistant, and leading the charge in terms of innovation is Amazon’s flagship product, Alexa.

Alexa – which has been in the market since 2014, has evolved to now integrate with over 140 000 smart home devices, and is being used to manage over 100-million Alexa-compatible devices across its user base – is taking a bold new leap into intuitive smart home management with a range of upgrades and enhancements set to raise the bar significantly in the next year.

What new features should Alexa users look forward to?

Amazon VP of Smart Home, Daniel Rausch, says the aim is to make Alexa even more independent and able to intuit subtle changes in the home environment to trigger specific actions.

One of the key upgrades will be what the team at Amazon is calling ‘Hunches’ – in short, AI functionality that will allow Alexa to act without asking for permission, to listen for and react to sounds other than a ‘wake’ word, and to become more active as a security measure within the home, although this functionality is currently only available in the United States.

As Rausch says, this is about creating the “ambient home” in which Alexa is “ready to respond to voice commands but is more predictive and proactive”.

More on Hunches

Alexa has been testing Hunches for just over a year, gathering data to allow for enhancements to come in 2021 that will allow Alexa to perform certain actions without asking. 

For example, if you’re travelling Alexa may decide to turn off unnecessary lighting – for example in an unused bedroom – without switching off security or ‘occupied’ lighting. A constant feedback and learning loop will help Alexa understand whether the decisions made were the correct ones, to avoid situations where a person gets locked out of their house if they pop out quickly to put the bin out.

Similarly, Alexa’s new capability will allow the device to trigger certain events without a spoken command – for example, a snoring sound might trigger Alexa to switch off the TV in the vicinity, or a baby crying could trigger a bedside lamp to come on.

An additional set of ears in the house

As a security measure, Alexa Guard and the newly-launched Plus version – a subscription service offering enhanced ‘listening’ features – will offer users numerous options to help protect their homes from burglary, fire, smoke and other dangers. Currently, though, this feature is only available in the United States but will hopefully soon be rolled out across the UK.

Why is this important for you?

Smart Homes are going to become an integral part of the way we live – from everyday conveniences such as helping to manage lighting, sound, TV, blinds and more to assisting with grocery shopping, managing diaries and other daily tasks, tools such as Alexa will become essential.

At ElectriCAL we specialize in setting up Smart Homes to fit around your lifestyle and needs, and to help you achieve personalized and convenient enhancements to your home. 

Included in our services is the integration of tools like Alexa, with full specification, set up, training and maintenance on offer as part of our Smart Home integration.

To find out more, contact us today on 07538 540287 or email callum@electrical.me.uk.