CES 2018: Amazon's Alexa to challenge Cortana

09 January, 2018, 01:05 | Author: Simon Thompson
  • HP is adding a custom LED for Alexa to its HP Pavilion Wave desktop tower

After we learned last year that Alexa would soon integrate with Cortana on Windows 10, iOS and Android devices, Amazon has also teamed up with Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo to integrate Alexa within new Windows 10 PCs coming later this year. Manufacturers have mentioned that they will use Intel's Smart sound an integrated audio DSP (Digital Signal Processor) built to handle audio, voice, and speech interactions to pick up the Alexa wake word.

These devices will reportedly use a new Alexa Windows 10 app that's being developed and will be released later this year. In addition to that, you can also employ a keyboard shortcut for triggering it. HP has already launched the Pavillion Wave PC which packs support for talking to Alexa.

Amazon, the e-commerce giant, is taking Alexa beyond its Echo and Fire devices. Users will be able to control the projector after enabling the Acer Projector Smart Home skill by asking Alexa compatible Acer PC, "Alexa, turn on the projector", "Alexa, select HDMI as the projector source", or "Alexa, change projector display mode to bright". Amazon Alexa has spread from the company's Echo speakers into a growing number of third-party devices, in settings ranging from the vehicle to the bathroom. Windows PC users could say "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" to access Alexa's more than 25,000 skills and other features. While Microsoft and Amazon had announced a partnership, nothing came of that in 2017 and this is simply Amazon surging ahead regardless of Microsoft, presumably dragging the chain.

The Alexa app will be supported by devices with far-field microphones, meaning they will have a performance on par with that of separate devices.

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Similar to Acer, HP also recently unveiled the Pavilion Wave that is specifically created to offer voice interactions powered by Amazon Alexa.

This is a very interesting announcement overall, and we look forward to see what Acer and Lenovo will say about their upcoming PCs featuring Alexa support.

"The voice assistant's VP testified to the eminent practicality of the setup in a statement, saying, '[h] ands-free access to Alexa on PCs can be helpful to customers in many ways, like making it simple to interact with your smart home, get news or weather, set timers, and more". A command given to Cortana could be interpreted by Alexa or vice versa. "This is a big step toward making Alexa available wherever customers might need her", Steve Rabuchin, Amazon Alexa VP, said in a statement.

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