Verizon is Developing an Alexa-Powered Smart Display
Verizon is developing a new smart display using Alexa as a voice assistant, according to a new FCC filing first spotted by Protocol. The smart display is unnamed beside LVD1 as a model number and appears to use the Alexa Custom Assistant platform that debuted earlier this year within Chrysler vehicles.
The Verizon smart display shares a look with Amazon’s own Echo Show line, albeit with sharper angles and no fabric covering the speakers. The FCC filing describes an eight-inch display and a front camera, supported by 4 GB of RAM, 16 GV internal memory, and the ability to connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 4G cellular service. There’s no indication whether it’s a touchscreen, but the filing indicates there is a native voice assistant tied to “Hi Verizon” as a wake word. The user manual attached to what Verizon filed suggests the main goal of the device is to run the BlueJeans video conferencing system Verizon bought last year. That would fit with what Verizon said at the time about BlueJeans becoming part of the company’s long-term plans to build up a network of services that use 5G.
“As the way we work continues to change, it is absolutely critical for businesses and public sector customers to have access to a comprehensive suite of offerings that are enterprise ready, secure, frictionless and that integrate with existing tools,” Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin said at the time. “Collaboration and communications have become top of the agenda for businesses of all sizes and in all sectors in recent months. We are excited to combine the power of BlueJeans’ video platform with Verizon Business’ connectivity networks, platforms and solutions to meet our customers’ needs.”
Using the Alexa Custom Assistant helps Verizon in that goal by simplifying the deployment of a branded voice assistant. Even though users will say “Hi Verizon” and presumably hear a custom voice with unique features, it’s the Alexa AI that will be supporting it all. That’s faster and cheaper than building a voice assistant from scratch and doesn’t sacrifice Verizon’s branding. It also means fewer resources spent updating elements like Alexa’s natural language engine. That’s why Chrysler, Qualcomm, and Garmin have begun implementing the platform.
And while the Verizon screen is too new to know much about, the Alexa Custom Assistant platform offers additional support so that when the custom assistant is asked to complete a task or respond to a question it can’t handle, the AI will turn to Alexa for help, and vice versa. We’ve reached out to Verizon for comment, although it’s unlikely they will say anything ahead of an official announcement about the device’s timing, price, or features.