Kids ask a lot of questions. Like, a lot of questions. Amazon’s launched a new Alexa tool that might be able to step in when parents are burned out.
Amazon Echo devices will now let kids have interactive chats with Alexa through a new artificial intelligence feature. “Explore with Alexa,” which was unveiled at its Fall event last month, is now available with Amazon Kids+, the company’s family-friendly programming bundle.
The feature represents the latest example of how Big Tech companies are employing AI in different ways. After ChatGPT went mainstream earlier this year, tech companies’ have developed a voracious appetite for all things AI. This comes even as Industry experts express concerns about the technology’s possible unintended harmful consequences. Amazon is looking to head off those concerns.
“We want to go slow and be intentional and be measured with how we’re introducing this new tech, as well as any new tech for kids, which is why we’re not just hooking the experience up to [a large language model] at runtime and kind of letting kids go at it,” Arjun Venkataswamy, senior product manager for Alexa Kids, told TechCrunch.
The Alexa Kids science team has sought to keep the AI’s abilities to a minimum so far. The feature uses Alexa’s large language model, or LLM, to include only age appropriate fun facts and trivia. For now, content will only be available from the World Wildlife Fund and A-Z Animals. In the future, “Explore with Alexa” aims to expand to include topics like space, music, video games, and sports, according to the report.
Kids can trigger the feature by saying phrases like “Alexa, let’s explore animals” or “Alexa, tell me an animal fact.” Since the feature’s goal is to offer natural-sounding conversations, kids can also ask questions like “What does a lion’s roar sound like?” or “How fast can a cheetah run?”
The “Explore with Alexa” features seems like a natural extension to Amazon’s release of the Echo Pop Kids smart speakers at its product launch event in September, which includes six months of Amazon Kids+.
Amazon Kids+ is also available to members for $4.99 a month after a month-long free trial.
The $49.99 speakers are available in two designs – Marvel’s Avengers or Disney princesses – and let users stream kid-friendly songs, set up routines, and interact with Disney characters through new Alexa voice assistant features.
Amazon wasn’t immediately available for comment.