Amazon Tracker: International SmartHome Party

Another week, another Amazon expansion/innovation. Well, there was actually more than one this week. It was truly a global affair.

Amazon announced Monday that their Launchpad program is now live in India. The news comes just a week after the Launchpad store went live in Canada. The Launchpad program, which debuted in summer 2015, was designed to enable and accelerate startups by assisting with product distribution via custom product pages.

Launchpad also offers startups a comprehensive marketing package and access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network. Launchpad is backed by more than 100 venture capital firms, startup accelerators and crowdfunding platforms.

Products from some 400 startups are being sold in India’s Launchpad store so far, including 25 currently signed on from India. Companies include Lechal, which makes small items that can be added to shoes as fitness tracking devices; Seven Sense Technologies, which designs wearable tech like fitness tracking rings; and True South, which produces ready-to-brew coffee powder pouches.

All told, Launchpad has helped over 1,200 startups worldwide since its inception, according to Jason Feldman, Director Global Innovations for Amazon. Launchpad now enables startups in seven countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Mexico, China and now India.

Moving north and east, Amazon debuted its Dash button in Japan, adding the nation of over 128 million to its repertoire of the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Austria. The Dash button debuted in 2015 and allows instant ordering at the push of a literal button for Amazon Prime Members.

Well over 200 brands are on the Dash service stateside — Japan will be starting off with 42, including Gillette razor blades and Ariel detergent. In Japan, the buttons are available for 500 yen ($4.40), and users get 500 yen off their first purchase. So, free, then.

What this really should be signaling to pretty much everyone — if they hadn’t already got the message — is that this is Amazon’s world we’re living in. If you thought the company couldn’t get any bigger, there’s still more to come.

For one, Amazon and data storage technology company Seagate partnered to launch the Seagate Duet late last week. It’s a new external hard drive with 1 TB of storage that automatically syncs itself to the cloud, allowing for dual data backup in one go — convenient, if it isn’t a bit redundant. Still, it’s best to air on the side of backups when dealing with data.

Users can access their stored data via the Amazon Drive suite of mobile apps. Pre-orders are currently available, and the device will be available come Dec.10. Purchase includes a free year of Amazon Drive service for new users.

Finally, this year’s Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference has come and gone, but it has left a lasting impression behind. Especially on proponents of IoT proliferation.

It looks like consumers will soon see more voice-controlled gadgets and smarthome tech in the near future ... a lot more. Especially if Amazon and Intel have anything to do with it.

Amazon and Intel collaborated in order to build a reference design for a smart speaker that uses Amazon’s Alexa (and her ever-growing number of skills) to assist with tasks. The goal is to accelerate further device production using Amazon’s voice tech and the Intel platform from other tech manufacturers. Intel says developers and manufacturers will have access to the reference design in the first quarter of 2017.

In addition, Intel integrated Alexa’s voice controls into its SmartHome Hub — an open, flexible, scalable smart home platform reference design. Amazon will be working to augment Alexa’s skills that compliment functions in a smarthome environment — like supporting Logitech’s Harmony Hub.

If Amazon and Intel have their way, 2017 (or, let’s say 2018 to err on the side of caution) could be the world’s first year of the smarthome.



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