Alexa, The Amazon Smart Assistant That Reads Aloud In The Voice Of A Deceased Loved One, Only Needs To Learn Less Than A Minute Of The Recording

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A child tells Alexa, Amazon's smart voice assistant, that he wants to listen to the bedtime story "The Wizard of Oz," and the voice that comes out of the speaker is not the usual mechanical voice of a voice assistant, but the voice of the child's late grandmother.

The ability to recreate the voice of a deceased loved one is a new feature of Amazon's smart assistant. At the recent Amazon re:MARS conference, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and chief scientist of Alexa, said that with the new technology, Amazon needs only a minute of recording to generate the output of the desired voice.

▲Image from: TechCrunch

The MARS in re:MARS, which stands for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space. In addition to a slew of new upcoming features for Amazon's smart assistants, there was quite a bit of new stuff that came out at the conference.

As a retail giant, warehouse robots are important to Amazon. With the acquisition of Kiva Systems, Amazon created a robotics division that has deployed more than 520,000 robot-driven units in fulfillment and picking centers.

▲Image from: Forbes

At the re:MARS conference, Amazon's head of robotics, Tye Brady, showed off the future of automated systems, mentioning several robots among them.

One such fully automated warehouse robot, called 'Proteus', was designed to be able to move around Amazon's facilities on its own while carrying a cart full of packages. With advanced safety, sensing and navigation technology, this robot is able to do its job without getting in the way of human employees.

▲Image from: TechCrunch

The 'Proteus', which is shaped somewhat like a floor sweeper, not only moves under and tops off a cart full of packages, it emits a green light in front of it as it moves, and stops if a worker is in front of the light.

Amazon says Proteus will initially be deployed in the outbound GoCart processing areas of the company's fulfillment and sortation centers, with the hope of automating GoCart processing across the network.

▲ Image from: Amazon

Automating the handling of these parcel carts helps reduce the need for workers to manually move heavy items around the facility, enables them to focus on more valuable work, and is also about creating a safer workplace for people.

▲Image from: Amazon

In Amazon's warehouses, there's Proteus for moving packages, and Cardinal, a robotic arm, does the picking. With the help of artificial intelligence and computer vision, it picks up packages, reads the labels, and then places them in the appropriate carts for the next stage of the shipping process.

▲Image from: Amazon

Amazon is currently testing sorting packages weighing up to 50 pounds (about 23 kilograms) and expects to deploy the robotic arm to sorting facilities in fulfillment centers by next year.

In addition, Amazon demonstrated an artificial intelligence technology that can automatically move to scan packages, powered by computer vision and machine learning technologies.

▲Image from: Amazon

Instead of having to have a worker use a manual scanner to scan the barcode on a package, as was previously the case, with this scanning capability there is no need to pause when sorting packages, and the camera, which runs at 120 frames per second, allows the system to quickly identify packages that pass through the camera. This gives employees greater mobility in their work and less risk of possible injury.

It is naturally good to have new technologies, but the 'dangers' lurking in technological development are also alert. For example, there are concerns that with these robots they may replace workers' jobs, but in terms of the role of these robots, they are more of an 'aid' than a 'replacement'.

▲Image from: Amazon

However, Amazon has not revealed any more details about the new features of the smart assistant Alexa, but Alexa has a large number of users, and if it takes less than a minute of recording to sound like other people, it might be able to use it to make up for regrets with loved ones, but some users will hear, perhaps not as much as the children in the demo, only wonderful fairy tales like The Wizard of Oz.

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