Amazon is building an anti-metaverse using 'ambient intelligence'

Amazon is building an anti-metaverse using ‘ambient intelligence’

in a short hour Amazon jams bundles with product releases each fall, and it can be hard to see the woods for the trees on why the company needs to sell both a sleep-tracking alarm clock and a robot, for example.

But as Amazon discovers the best way to deliver “ambient intelligence” — products in which computers and screen-driven interfaces fade into the background in favor of proactive information and voice-driven interactions — filling every possible niche with the Alexa voice assistant may seem like a valid solution.

This year, Amazon has crafted its products around reducing distractions and limiting screen time, but the most interesting announcement may be how it is now subtly positioning itself in the face of the industry’s current obsession with mixed reality and metaverse.

What is “ambient intelligence”?

The fifth generation Echo Dot is a smart speaker that acts as a Wi-Fi extender.Amazon

Ambient computing, or “ambient intelligence” as Amazon specifically refers to the thinking behind its products, is about making a computer “disappear.” This can happen in different ways, but Amazon has identified three main descriptors for its “smart ambient” devices. It is intuitive, proactive and personal.

The thinking goes: Technology must be intuitive to use or know how to use. They should be proactive about the information they share with you and take action on their own so that you can limit your time to use it. And technology has to be personalized, knowing what you need to know about you to be useful, and relevant to your life in a way that makes sense to you.

Talking to Alexa through the Echo speaker is often as simple as asking a question. Features like “Alexa hunch” It allows you to proactively know the status of your various smart home devices, and you can even take action on them – turning them off or changing their settings – without having to ask. At an Amazon event, Dave Limp, the company’s senior vice president of devices and services, shared that 90 percent of Alexa actions (programmable sets of actions for smart home devices) start without a customer saying anything. This impressive statistic requires some preparation on the user’s part, but it suggests that Amazon’s vision of a future with fewer direct interactions with technology is possible — if not already here for some people.

This is very different from the vision of a company like Meta, which imagines a future that is less intrusive to computing thanks to augmented reality, but is committed to a virtual reality present that involves wearing a $1,000 screen on your face. to go to workHang out with friends and have fun. The Meta Quest Pro headset could turn out to be quite impressive, but I wouldn’t say that spending the whole day inside one sounds more appealing than a world where my interactions with screens are limited by default.

As Limp clearly commented in his closing remarks at the Amazon event, “The real world matters to customers.” Amazon’s products are an attempt to keep people busy here in the real world, solving things “behind the scenes” rather than dragging them to another screen. Digital Wellbeing Features Regardless, most other companies are looking in a very different direction.

All eyes on the next internet

The Echo Show 15 can recognize who is in front of them and show them relevant information.Amazon

Meta is not alone in playing around with virtual reality, augmented reality, and the future mobile internet that can connect them all. Google has indicated that it will try and Make augmented reality glasses againLots of companies you run too Their own thoughts about the metaverseAnd Apple announced it Intentions for making AR and VR products For years with signs indicating a possible January launch Mixed Reality Headset. These plans only help make Amazon’s case stronger.

But what’s not on Amazon’s offering, but implied in all of its new products, is what’s needed to make “ambient intelligence” work: lots of cameras, lots of microphones, and a ubiquitous internet connection throughout your home.

Adding the Eero Mesh that increases capabilities to your Echo Dot smart speakers is a smart way to make building your smart home easier, and makes placing an Echo in every room even more enticing. Easier communication was a micro-theme of the event; Amazon also announced new Eero PoE 6 routers that can run over Ethernet and place anywhere you can run the cable. Returning to the always-on microphone side, the Fire TV Cube and Fire TV Omni QLED Series both make having Alexa control your media center even better.

“[Amazon’s] Seeing technology requires that you have a radically different relationship with the technology in your life…”

Amazon has privacy in mind for all its new products, from things as simple as their camera shutters Echo Show Smart Screens For end-to-end encryption for systems that process virtually all video and audio the company captures (Amazon also does on-device processing). But it doesn’t change the fact that the company’s vision of technology requires you to have a radically different relationship with the technology in your life, one that is constantly observed rather than interacting with your computer or phone when you want to. Not to say any of these metaverse ideas would require less monitoring, but at least for now, you can take the headset off.

Increasingly, there are two visions of the future for how we interact with technology and each other appears: one involves bringing ourselves closer to the screens we already have and the other consists of stuffing so much proactive technology into the world around us that we never have to interact with computers directly. It’s hard to say if one would be better than the other or if either would pay off, but it seems Amazon now knows that there can be value in the design itself as an alternative to noise metaverse.

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