Once content to simply sit on a desk or bookshelf, the newest Alexa-powered devices want to patrol the whole house, so they can be there to attend to spontaneous thoughts and requests that pop into consumers’ minds.
As much as that might seem excessive, the expanded use of voice-enabled tech is dead serious in it potential and use cases, including serving as a caregiver for older adults or providing appropriate entertainment for children.
It’s all part of a string of Amazon announcements unveiling a range of applications and devices that are on a first-name-basis with Alexa, its voice-powered assistant.
The Next 7 Years
Upon its introduction in 2014, Alexa introduced the consumer to a new way of connecting with information and brands, turning dumb device into smart ones and enabling people to simply tell it what to do, PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster noted in a recent opinion piece.
That was certainly the case at Tuesday’s (Sept. 28) Amazon Devices & Services event, where the company previewed several new devices and reported that customers have connected more than 200 million smart home devices to Alexa and are connecting millions of new devices each month.
The headline-grabber was a home robot named Astro, which features Alexa on wheels. The device is pitched by Amazon as a household robot for home monitoring, with Alexa. It is equipped with a camera, it’s controlled by an app when the homeowner is away and it’s able to navigate around obstacles.
“In five to 10 years, we believe every home will have at least one robot,” Amazon reported in its live blog of the event. “They’ll become a core part of your everyday life.”
Amazon suggests Astro also can be used to bring digital content to the user, follow the user around so they can continue a video conference while moving, and carry items in a cupholder. When equipped with a Furbo Dog Camera, it can even toss treats to pets.
Astro will initially be available by invitation only and is to begin shipping later this year.
Assistance Wherever Needed
Other devices announced at the event will provide access to Alexa and assist users with caring for older relatives, entertaining children, keeping digital content in a convenient place and controlling the temperature in a home.
Noting that caregiving isn’t easy, Amazon said in its live blog, “That’s why early next year, Alexa Together will make it possible for multiple people to provide support for a loved one.”
Alexa Together will offer a new multiuser subscription that will help users keep tabs on older relatives and enable hands-free access to a professional emergency hotline.
Also newly announced at the event are “Hey, Disney,” a voice assistant that works alongside Alexa and allows users to interact with characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars; the Echo Show 15, an Alexa-powered screen that can be hung on a wall, and the Amazon Smart Thermostat, which works with Alexa.
All Aspects of Life
“Across our entire business, we see that simple, powerful technology can help families in all aspects of their lives,” Amazon said in its live blog.
PYMNTS research finds that 31% of U.S. consumers have a voice-activated speaker in their homes, in addition to other voice artificial intelligence (AI)-connected devices like doorbells, appliances, TVs and curtains. Alexa is reported to have a 68% share of the voice AI market.
With these newly announced Alexa-powered devices delivering more robust capabilities and performing additional tasks, consumers’ reliance on voice assistants will grow in tandem with their comfort using them, which in turn will spawn even more innovation and the creation of additional use cases and devices.