Too exhausted (or unimaginative) to tell your child a bedtime story? Amazon’s smart displays can spin bespoke tales on demand.
What’s new: A feature called Create with Alexa generates children’s stories complete with illustrations, music, and sound effects on the Amazon Echo Show device.
How it works: The screen presents a series of prompts that provide a setting (such as “space exploration” or “enchanted forest”), main character (such as an astronaut or an alien), principal color, and tone (such as “happy” or “mysterious”).
- A language model trained on written stories produces five to 10 lines of text divided into five scenes.
- For each scene, a scene-generation model selects an appropriate background image from a library of human-created and AI-generated pictures. The model adds objects and characters, including facial expressions and gestures that match the text; for instance, a laughing pirate who waves her hands.
- An audio generator produces music by melding a library of chords, harmonies, and rhythms.
Behind the news: Amazon is under pressure to revitalize its 10-year-old Echo line. The devices, which have been sold at a loss on the theory that they would spur purchases of other goods, lost $10 billion in 2022 alone, and the division responsible for the Alexa software faces steep layoffs.
Why it matters: AI models that generate text, images, video, and music are having a banner year. Alexa’s storytelling feature coordinates several generative models into a coherent whole. Whether it will spur sales is a tale for another time.
We’re thinking: Once upon a time, there was a boy in a blue shirt who dreamed of changing the world with AI. . . .