Amazon put on a product pageant on Thursday (Sept. 20), one centered around its Alexa voice-assistant technology, and one of the main themes that came out of that Seattle event is a reminder of how badly the eCommerce operator wants to live inside your house and vehicles.
Oh, it also seems Amazon has come around to recognizing the appeal — nay, the necessity — of bass (the musical property, not the often tasty fish). More on that in just a bit …
The eCommerce operator — which just bought a grocery store chain in India in a $580 million deal, in case you’ve not yet heard — showed more than a dozen Alexa-enabled products during the event.
According to Amazon — that is, judging by the structure of the press release promoting the Thursday event — the most important product is Alexa Guard. A person leaving the house can say “Alexa, I’m leaving” to activate the offering. Were a problem to arise during that person’s absence — a carbon monoxide leak or smoke alarm, for instance, or the sound of glass breaking — Alexa will not only send smart alerts to that person, but turn on lights inside the house to freak out any intruder. Amazon said Alexa Guard will on select Echo devices later this year.
There is no question that Amazon is striving to be a leader in the “smart home” ecosystem, and that was also underscored on Thursday by the display of Hunches, another Alexa service.
As described by Amazon: “As you interact with your smart home, Alexa learns more about your day-to-day usage and can sense when connected smart devices such as lights, locks, switches and plugs are not in the state that you prefer. For example, if your living room light is on when you say ‘Alexa, good night,’ Alexa will respond with ‘Good night. By the way, your living room light is on. Do you want me to turn it off?’ This feature will be available later this year.”
Meanwhile, a $59.99 microwave sold under the AmazonBasics brand, which will begin to ship later this year, includes “dozens of quick-cook voice presets, so you can cook just by asking Alexa. There’s a built-in Ask Alexa button that you can press and say simple commands like ‘two minutes and 30 seconds on medium’ to speed up the process of heating up your food,” according to an account of the product event on Thursday.
Echo is also become more sophisticated about music, via the Echo Sub speaker shown at the Thursday event. The Verge put it this way: “If there’s one thing Echo speakers typically lack, it’s bass. To help solve for that, Amazon is introducing the $129.99 Echo Sub. When paired together with an Echo or Echo Plus, the Echo Sub will fill out the low end, making your music sound much fuller.”
Amazon also showed Echo Auto, described by CNBC as an “in-car device (that) will come with a dash mount, and is built on a new operating system from Amazon. It boots quickly so it is ready after the car is turned on. It connects to vehicles through Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE or an auxiliary jack. Data connections via a mobile phone can be used for Alexa integration.”
Amazon is among a collection of companies working to gain an early presence inside connected cars. Earlier this year, the firm launched an open source release of the Alexa Automotive Core (AAC) SDK, or Auto SDK, enabling automakers to integrate Alexa voice control into a car’s infotainment system.
Meanwhile, the move into home appliances will see Amazon taking on companies like Sonos and GE. The eCommerce giant has made plenty of recent progress in the connected home, including acquiring smart doorbell maker Ring for $1 billion in February. A few months later, it rolled out a home security service offering that includes a consultant who will help with the installation of the smart home equipment Amazon is selling.
Given the power and scope of Amazon, its recent product pageant offered a very reasonable view of where connected vehicles and homes might be headed.