Weekly Digest: Revamped Alexa App, Wallmart’s Voice Assistant, and Smart Speaker For Disaster Relief

Dasha Fomina
Aug 2, 2020 · 2 min read

This week in Conversational AI.

Image Credit: Victor Seleykov/ Just AI

The revamped Alexa app focuses on personalization

Amazon introduced an upgraded version of its Alexa mobile app, which is now supposed to offer a more personalized experience with a focus on users’ home screens. Among other changes, the app offers more instructions on how and when consumers can use the digital assistant, to increase focus on how consumers are actually using Alexa. Via TechCrunch.

Walmart launches new ‘Ask Sam’ tool for store employees

With the new tool, employees at more than 5,000 Walmart stores can help shoppers find products, prices, or whatever they’re looking for. Developed by Sam’s Club in 2019, the voice assistant app called “Ask Sam” can pull up store maps, look up prices, locate products, and receive real-time emergency alerts. Via USA Today.

A new smart speaker for disaster relief

A San Francisco-based strategic technology design firm introduced an app and a smart speaker system called Quilt that connects people in emergency situations. Developed New Deal Design, the Quilt system is designed to connect community members. Those willing to help others can download the app, while people who might be considered vulnerable need to install a stationary smart speaker called a Beacon. When government officials declare a disaster, the app is activated, which creates a base mesh network between users so even if the power is out and the internet is down, Quilt users can still connect to one another. The app also allows users to send a safe status to loved ones, locate Beacon users who need help, and get important notifications. Via Fast Company.

Voice assistant from U.S. Bank mimics human tellers

U.S. Bank developed a voice assistant for its mobile app, allowing users to carry out their banking requests in conversational language, imitating the experience of talking to a bank teller. Embedded in the U.S. Bank Android and iOS app, the assistant has no wake word and starts listening when a user taps the microphone button in the app. The virtual helper can carry out transactions and transfers, pull up bills and spending history, and manage any credit cards. Via Voicebot.ai.