Amazon Alexa Showcases New Generative AI Experiences From Character.AI, Volley, and Splash
Amazon debuted a set of third-party generative AI experiences at CES this year that fuse Amazon’s large language model (LLM) developer tools introduced last fall with the upgraded Alexa voice assistant revealed at the same time. The tech giant showcased new Alexa Skills from virtual being creation platform Character.AI, voice game producer Volley, and AI music composer Splash.
Alexa Generative AI Skills
Character.AI’s Alexa skill lets users engage in real-time conversations with synthetic people, both historical and entirely fictional. This includes the knowledgeable ‘Librarian Linda,’ a personal trainer, and imaginative versions of historical figures like Socrates. Meanwhile, long-time voice game startup and Alexa Fund portfolio company Volley has a new Alexa Skill that reworks the classic “20 Questions” game through generative AI and voice interactions. It’s a twist on the familiar parlor game, with the voice assistant offering interactions and hints on a level much closer to human conversation than had been previously feasible.
“The launch of Volley’s 20 Questions marks a major milestone in gaming,” Volley CEO Max Child said in a statement. “It’s one of the first LLM-based games that players can speak to naturally using just their voice. As long as the player understands the rules of the game, they can say nearly anything and have the AI Riddlemaster understand and respond appropriately. Adapting 20 Questions, a beloved classic pastime that most of our players are already familiar with, was a natural first step for LLM gaming.”
The third new generative AI Alexa skill has a different angle on audio. Splash, another Alexa Fund portfolio company, has published an Alexa Skill that guides users through writing a song purely by voice control. Alexa users can decide on a musical genre, add lyrics, and either rap or sing along to the composition. They can then download these custom songs to their Alexa account and play them for others whenever they wish.
“Through our collaboration with Amazon, we’re crafting a new way for people to express themselves and connect with others through music,” Splash chief product officer Richard Slatter said in a statement. ” Our goal is to democratize music creation, and this marks a hugely exciting step in that journey.”
All of these new apps reflect different facets of Amazon’s broader strategy to enhance Alexa’s generative AI capabilities. The comprehensive generative AI makeover to Alexa last autumn made fundamental improvements to the voice assistant, including a more opinionated personality, the ability to express human emotions like excitement or surprise, and a more human-like voice overall. With over half a billion devices sold and millions of interactions per hour, Alexa is positioned to leverage its ubiquity to take advantage of generative AI in a way that Google, Meta, or OpenAI can’t really approach, at least for now.