Amazon Rolls Out Alexa ‘Show Mode’ to Turn Lenovo PCs into Smart Displays
Lenovo and Amazon released Alexa Show Mode this week, which lets certain Lenovo PCs perform a kind of smart display. First introduced at CES this year, Alexa Show Mode enables voice-control from a distance like an Amazon Echo Show.
Show and Tell
Alexa Show Mode works on Lenovo Yoga, ThinkPad, and IdeaPad PCs running Windows 10, as they are among those with the necessary far-field microphones. The PCs have a Show Mode button, or it can be activated by asking Alexa when the computer’s microphone is on. When Alexa Show Mode starts, the computer essentially turns into an Echo Show. The voice assistant listens through the computer’s far-field microphones to requests to start streaming audio and video content, games, and apps. It can also run connected smart home devices, make calls and send messages to other Alexa-enabled devices, and operate connected smart TVs. The final version of Show Mode also improves on the demo from CES with better sound, more efficient energy use, and automatic enablement for when the computer isn’t in use for a while.
“We are excited to bring Alexa’s rich, visual ambient experience to PCs,” Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Skills vice president Aaron Rubenson, said in a statement. “Customers love the fact that Alexa is always accessible. With Show Mode, Alexa is helping make PCs more versatile and adaptive, enabling richer experiences throughout the home or wherever customers may take their PC.”
Lenovo is the first computer company to have Show Mode. Microsoft came out with a similar idea last May with the Surface Book 3 and Cortana. That voice assistant is limited more toward operations on Windows 10, but the far-field microphones embedded in the laptop give it similar audio capabilities as Lenovo. Amazon has been building up better ways to integrate Alexa into computers and other devices for a while. Last year, Amazon Fire revamped its smart television interface to incorporate Alexa in new ways. They all lead to fewer differences between a smart display, TV, or computer, with Alexa bringing most or all of its capabilities with one to the other devices.
“Improving device simplicity and the user experience is at the heart of Lenovo’s customer-centric innovation culture. A voice-enabled interface will be a big part of that endeavor,” Lenovo vice president of cloud and software Igor Bergman said in a statement. “That’s why Lenovo is the first to bring to market Alexa Show Mode on PCs. By enabling Show Mode on Lenovo PCs, we are providing customers with a highly versatile user experience on a natural and convenient interface.”