Amazon Rolls Out Generative AI ‘Explore with Alexa’ Experience for Curious Kids
Amazon has launched the ‘Explore with Alexa’ generative AI-fueled feature for Amazon Kids+ subscribers, previewed at its devices event earlier this year. Explore with Alexa leverages a version of the Alexa large language model (LLM) introduced at the time to engage children in informative, interactive chats about topics like animals, nature, science, and more.
Explore With Alexa
Amazon said the idea for Explore grew out of the more than 25 million questions kids already ask Alexa every month. The company found kids were especially curious about animals and the natural world. Explore With Alexa brings generative AI into the responses to these questions to go beyond a basic factual answer. The voice assistant will respond conversationally with entertaining trivia, fun facts, and follow-up questions to encourage further exploration. The company adapted its large language model architecture to transform Alexa’s existing knowledge base into child-appropriate responses. For example, when a child asks, “What is an orca whale?” Alexa will give a kid-friendly explanation and then ask if they want to learn more. The assistant will share engaging facts about orcas’ size, speed, and hunting habits. Amazon said this AI-powered approach allows it to generate tens of thousands of potential kid-friendly Alexa responses much faster than manual content creation.
“Since we launched Alexa for Kids five years ago, we’ve learned so much about how kids interact with Alexa, what they ask, and how we can provide interesting and relevant content that kids love and parents trust. It’s from that learning, and doing our best to keep up with kids’ curious minds over the years, that guided the creation of Explore with Alexa,” Amazon Kids director Alanna Nielsen explained in a blog post. “Explore with Alexa will help make our trusted library of kids content bigger and better, developing more kid-friendly responses to encourage kids to learn and explore, and always with trust and safety at the forefront.”
Explore With Alexa builds on the generative AI revamp Amazon is giving its voice assistant. The changes encompass all sorts of Alexa services, including using sensory input from Echo devices to infer non-verbal cues for more natural conversations, as well as new speech recognition abilities allowing Alexa to know when someone is pausing their speech momentarily, removing the need to constantly repeat the wake word to have an ongoing conversation with Alexa, while also minimizing latency and cutting response time by as much as 40%.
Alexa’s responses will also be more personalized, with recognition of user preferences and previous conversations used by Alexa to change how it responds to a user. As usual, Amazon stressed privacy protections remain a priority and that users will have oversight of their data and interactions. The voice assistant will also have more of a personality of its own, with opinions and ideas unique to each user as a way to make exchanges more engaging. That includes new text-to-speech advancements to enable more expressive and conversational vocal tones.