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Amazon’s Latest Alexa Devices Ready To Extend Company’s Reach Into Your Home |

Amazon’s Latest Alexa Devices Ready To Extend Company’s Reach Into Your Home

‘Kids today will grow up never knowing a day when they couldn’t talk to their houses,’ says executive in charge of Echo devices at launch

This article titled “Amazon’s latest Alexa devices ready to extend company’s reach into your home” was written by Mark Harris, for The Guardian on Wednesday 27th September 2017 20.34 UTC


Amazon, hoping to replicate the success of its Echo device, is poised to extend its eyes and ears into every part of your life with the launch of new voice-controlled and camera-equipped Alexa devices designed for bedrooms, living rooms and even your car.

“Voice control in the home will be ubiquitous,” predicted David Limp, an Amazon senior vice-president who is in charge of the Echo devices, at an event in Seattle on Wednesday. “Kids today will grow up never knowing a day they couldn’t talk to their houses.”

The Echo has been Amazon’s surprise hit in the three years since it launched, finding its way into tens of millions of kitchens around the world, offering internet radio, timers, weather and news reports and voice calls. Now Amazon will start selling a smaller, cheaper version of the original Echo, with fabric and wood veneers, as well a new flagship device called the Echo Plus that promises to work instantly with dozens of smart home devices, such as locks, lights and electric sockets.

“Setting up your smart home is still just too hard,” Limp said. “It can take up to 15 steps to do something as simple as set up a lightbulb.”

Amazon’s vision is of homes with Echo devices in every room, listening to every word you say. A new Fire TV media device adds voice control over streaming TV and movie services like Amazon’s own Prime video, Netflix and others.

Amazon’s vision is of homes with Echo devices in every room, listening to every word you say. Photograph: Amazon

One of the cutest new products was the Echo Spot, a spherical bedside device that can act as a smart alarm clock and videophone. It can also trigger a sequence of smart home actions, such as reading the morning’s traffic report, opening curtains and turning a kettle on.

“For Amazon, hardware is a means to drive more consumption, be it media or washing powder. Software, developer and hardware announcements are all designed to deepen Amazon’s role in our daily lives,” said Geoff Blaber of CCS Insight, a market intelligence company.

Amazon devices in the US can now also place free voice calls to landlines and mobile phones nationwide – a step showing that Amazon is trying to muscle in on communications, an area in which it failed spectacularly with the flop of a Fire smartphone, complete with a 3D screen, in 2014.

Perhaps the tech giant will have more luck in the increasingly connected automotive world. Limp also announced that Alexa would come built in to some BMW and Mini cars beginning next summer, allowing drivers to control music, get weather or news updates, and even order a pizza from behind the wheel.

There will undoubtedly be backlash against pushing Amazon’s voice technologies into every part of consumers’ lives. After publication of this article, the company said in a statement: “Our goal is to make Alexa available in as many places as possible so that customers have the choice.”

Its Echo Show device, which has a 7in screen built in and goes on sale in the UK on Wednesday, can connect to multiple cameras, linked to doorbells and locks or baby monitors. Amazon also launched standalone accessories called Buttons that can be used for family games.

The company has opened up its Alexa technology to other manufacturers, and expects to see a wave of new voice-controlled kitchen appliances, entertainment gear and toys coming soon.

“We don’t think of Echo as a consumer electronics device,” said Limp. “It’s a service that we’re constantly trying to improve. We learn what our customers like, and would like to do better.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News Media Limited 2010

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David Limp displays a new Echo, left, and an Echo Plus. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

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