Amazon moves to embed Alexa into homes
Amazon has unveiled a range of new Echo smart home devices as the technology giant attempts to embed virtual assistant Alexa into homes.
The online retailer is slashing prices to undercut Google, introducing better acoustics in response to a forthcoming Apple speaker and rolling out new formats.
“We want to make sure we are building a product that everyone can use,” said David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice-president of devices and services, during a Wednesday event showcasing the company’s holiday product line-up at its Seattle headquarters.
A second generation of the Echo smart speaker, with a redesigned sound system and better voice recognition was among the announcements, alongside a new Echo Plus that automatically discovers and connects with smart light bulbs and other products.
An alarm clock-inspired Echo Spot, Bluetooth-connected Echo Buttons and the video screen-based Echo Show were also revealed alongside a new HDR and 4K-enabled Fire TV.
The device, which comes in a new smaller form, also has improved far-field voice recognition.
Limp said in the three years since the company launched the Echo and Alexa in the US, the firm had learned “voice and the ambient voice experience in the home is going to be ubiquitous”.
The new Echo Plus is being pitched as a more powerful version of the Echo and automatically looks for and connects with other smart home devices.
Amazon says unlike the original Echo, consumers will not need to use Alexa apps or Skills to connect with smart light bulbs and other appliances, with the device automatically discovering devices when turned on.
A new version of the Fire TV streaming box will come with high dynamic range (HDR) and 4K support built in.
A further new Echo device, the Echo Spot, was also revealed. The small device is designed to replace traditional alarm clocks and also has video calling capabilities.