09:19 27th Sep, 2019
Is Amazon Becoming the Voice of Everything?
With a bevy of new launches and an interoperability group, the company appears to be setting a benchmark for its competitors Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung
Apple set the trend by having new launches in September and now Amazon has taken it to the next level by giving gadget freaks something to drool over in the holiday season. The company brought in new speakers and a host of other devices that can be paired with its voice assistant Alexa – ranging from ear buds to a night lamp, spectacles and a microwave oven.
And if you’re wondering about the future, Amazon also announced the formation of a new consortium called the voice interoperability group (VOG) that would work on creating global standards and technology for hardware to handle voice services. Jeff Bezos set the agenda for multiple and simultaneous wake words where customers can choose a voice that best supports an interaction.
In a statement, the company said the initiative is built around a shared belief that voice services should work seamlessly alongside one another on a single device. It listed out over 30 companies including BMW, Bose, Harman, Logitech, Microsoft, Sony, Spotify besides a host of hardware providers as partners who are supporting this effort.
More of that in a later post. For the moment let’s look at the bevy of products that Amazon has thrown into the ring for the upcoming holidays:
- The Echo series gets several updates, the smallest being a digital clock on the Echo Dot whereby an LED display also shows the weather and a countdown timer. By the way, if you do not want the LED, there’s the older version that continues to be available. It costs $59.
- The new Echo Studio directly takes on Apple’s HomePod and Google’s Nest Max, supporting 3D audio and Dolby Atmos. It boasts of five drivers facing all directions, a 24-bit DAC and power amplifier with 100 kHZ of bandwidth and loss-less music playback. It costs $199.99
- The wireless Echo Buds boasts of Bose’s active noise reduction tech and allows users to access Alexa hands-free. They offer five hours of music or four hours of conversation and fits into a case that holds up to three charges. All of this for just $129.
- The Echo Show 8 is a smaller version of the flagship model though bigger than the Echo 5 which makes it more of a side table accessory. Besides watching videos and using in voice calls, the new device is ideal for the bedroom. The device costs $129.
- The Echo Glow is nothing but a night lamp and that too for children as the pink glow suggests. Of course, it can also change color and flash to the music played on it. At $30 dollars, this could well be a parental gift for their child’s bedroom.
- The Echo Flex provides the flexibility to plug into any outlet to perform the tasks of a smart speaker. Thankfully there are no cameras so one can even take it to the bathroom! It responds to voice calls and can be upgraded with other accessories. The Flex costs $25 a piece.
- The Echo Frame and Loop are currently in beta version. The Frame is an Alexa-enabled pair of glasses that come with four stick speakers while the Look is a smart ring with two microphones that puts Alexa on the finger an enables short calls. Frame costs $179.99 and Loop $129.99.
- The Euro Router is pitched as a next generation router that works best with Alexa. It allows users to shut off music, pause the Wi-Fi set up with voice commands and will be provided to other routers available in the market. It is priced at $99.
- The Smart Oven is everything from a convection oven to a microwave, a food warmer and an air fryer put together. And once it gets paired with the Echo, the Alexa would come to your rescue by implementing all your commands. But, you need to shell out $250 for this luxury.
- And last but not the least, there is the Ring Stick Up Camera which is powered over the Ethernet and is essentially a wired version of the earlier offering. Costing $199, these cameras are available cheaper than the original wireless ones.
Looks like users in the United States and later Europe are going to be spoilt for choice. Maybe, they should just ask Alexa what all to purchase during the holiday season.
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