“Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey,” the smart Alexa wishes good morning. Amazon virtual assistant Alexa has gone more child-friendly to win the trust and confidence of parents. Rolling out a new set of features, it lets parents to “filter explicit songs, set bedtime limits, communicate with their children via Amazon devices and disable voice purchasing”, besides features like ‘Magic Word’, to turn children more polite when they say, ‘please’.
The modified version, Echo Dot Kids edition, announced a few days back, targets an audience, between 5 and 12 years of age. Now available in the US, a wider launch takes place on May 9. “Alexa for kids offers Amazon some obvious benefits, introducing its 4-year-old voice assistant to new users at an early age, so they may someday grow up to become Amazon shoppers. Beyond that, it may help Alexa build its value in people’s homes,” CNET analysed the long-term benefit the tech giant could earn from catching ’em early.
Alexa had received much flak for making children rude. In December 2016, a shocking incident was reported when a toddler asked to play ‘tickle, tickle’. In place of the expected, the result was a porn search forcing its parents to shout out at Alexa to stop searching.
BBC reports a research published by the company, ChildWise, “warning that youngsters that grew up accustomed to barking orders at Alexa, Google Assistant or some other virtual personality might become aggressive in later dealings with humans.”
The politeness feature, as BBC explains, works this way: “if the child asks: ‘What will the weather be today please?’ Alexa will add to its response: ‘Thanks for asking so nicely.’ Likewise, once Alexa has completed a task, if the child says: ‘Thank you,’ it will prompt one of several follow-ups, including ‘No worries,’ and ‘You’re welcome.’”
The Kids edition comes with a bumper case to protect the device from cracks. The service is categorised into free and paid. The paid tier called ‘FreeTime Unlimited’ offers a library of kid-friendly skills like Nickelodeon’s No Way That’s True trivia game, music playlists and more than 300 audible books. Initially it comes with an embedded FreeTime Unlimited package for a year....