An artificial Christmas tree that works with Alexa is now available for purchase on Amazon. For $299.99, this flame-retardant tree has 13 lighting functions for it’s LED lights, including:
Built on a metal stand, the Mr. Christmas seven-foot tall LED tree can be set up within minutes, as the poles are pre-wired. Users can tell Alexa to change the lighting or set it on schedules. With 1,750 branch tips, the Mr. Christmas Christmas Tree is meant to look like a genuine Christmas tree.
New Alexa Products Announced
At their 2019 keynote event, Amazon announced several new products that work with Alexa, including the Echo Studio smart speaker, the Echo Show 8, Echo Glow, a smart lamp that can be used as a nightlight for kids, and the Echo Dot with Clock. Aside from these speakers, displays and lights, Amazon is also creating Echo Buds, their version of the Apple AirPods, Echo Frames, glasses that give the user access to Alexa, plus Echo Loop, an Alexa-enabled smart ring. All of these products are manufactured by Amazon themselves, whereas the aforementioned artificial Christmas tree is made by Mr. Christmas, a third-party company.
Amazon Is Making Alexa More Conversational
Aside from expanding the line of products that include Alexa, Amazon is making Alexa more conversational with the goal of having the voice assistant engage in 20 minute conversations. Their competition, the Amazon Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge 3, chose 10 teams from universities around the world to improve Alexa’s artificial intelligence capabilities. They want Alexa to be able to understand sentence fragments, run-on sentences, as well as giving her everyday knowledge about normal situations. The teams were picked from top universities like Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California, Davis and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. On the Alexa blog, Senior Principal Scientist Dilek Hakkani-Tur wrote,
“The challenge to create a socialbot that can engage coherently with humans for 20-minutes with a 4.0 rating or higher, is incredibly complex. Teams have to incorporate advanced areas of conversational AI within their socialbots, including knowledge acquisition, natural language understanding, natural language generation, context modeling, commonsense reasoning, and dialog planning. “