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How Amazon's Alexa can quell your nighttime panic

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Anna Brech
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Paranoia about leaving the door unlocked or the hob on may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new Alexa feature

If you’re one of those people who wakes up in the middle of the night thinking, “God, did I leave the oven on?” - fear not.

AI voice assistant Alexa may soon be able to help you.

Amazon developers rolled out a ream of new features in Seattle this week, including the intriguing “Alexa Hunches”.

Once it is put into action later this year, the mechanism will start building up a picture of your daily habits based on connected smartphone devices such as lighting, locks and electrical appliances.

It will then use this intelligence to predict your moves and prompt you if you forget them. For example, if you say, “good-night Alexa” before going to bed, it might reply: “By the way, your front door is unlocked. Do you want me to lock it?”

“We’ve reached a point with deep neural networks and machine learning that we can actually program intuition,” says Daniel Rausch, vice-president of Alexa’s smart home features.

“Alexa can have hunches about smart devices that you typically leave on or off, whether that’s leaving a porch light on or locking the back door.”

Amazon’s Alexa will soon prompt you to turn the lights off or lock the door

Of course, this mechanism relies on all your key devices - such as locks and kitchen appliances - being hooked up to Alexa’s system: per Amazon’s vision of integrated smart homes.

Developers also have some work to do on making Alexa’s voice recognition capacity more sophisticated and less prone to glitches.

But assuming all this happens, it could spell a future where those prone to jitters of a “have I locked the door?” variety are forever soothed (along with the related “Did I leave the iron on?” panic that typically hits mid-flight). 

Other Alexa features unveiled by Amazon this week included “Whisper Mode”, whereby the device recognises a whispered command and replies in kind, and “Alexa Guard”, where Alexa uses Echo speakers to detect the sound of smashing glass or alarms going off, and reports back to you - wherever you happen to be.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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