Alexa is starting to think for herself. The personal assistant that’s built into Amazon devices like Echo smart speakers and Fire TV may better distinguish itself from competitors like Google Assistant in the future by offering up not just facts or recommendations, but by having her own opinions on things that weren’t explicitly added to her programming.
This will come into play, in particular, in the living room and in home entertainment scenarios, where Alexa will start to offer consumers more than just information on what’s popular on TV tonight, for example, or what she thinks you might like to watch. She will also be able to offer what she personally recommends.
The idea is that speaking to an assistant shouldn’t be about performing fact-based queries via voice, but having a conversation, explained Amazon Fire TV VP Marc Whitten, in a conversation at CES. That means Alexa will have to feel less like a voice search engine and more like someone you can really talk to.
“Having an opinion makes you more interesting, even as an assistant,” he said.
The Fire TV team has already seen the differences in how consumers act when talking into a voice remote by pressing a button, and talking to Alexa hands-free. In the former case, it’s like people are dictating queries into a search box. But when speaking hands-free, they start to ask more nuanced questions, like “show me comedies between ’88 and ’92,” Whitten noted.
This naturally leads people to ask a wider variety of questions, like what’s interesting tonight? or what should I watch?, which Alexa could respond to using data on TV shows’ popularity, or things she already knows about your preferences and viewing behavior in order to make personal recommendations.