Merchant Innovation

Amazon Echo Wises Up With SmartThings Collaboration

Amazon’s voice-activated smart gadget, Echo, is now compatible with consumer products from smart-home firm SmartThings.

But Amazon Echo is more than just a set of Bluetooth-enabled speakers; the gadget is designed around the voice of the user, enabling hands-free voice control for music, information from the Web, weather, news, shopping and more. The brain behind the device, Alexa, is cloud-based, meaning it will continue to gain knowledge and add more functionality as time goes on.

With the announcement of Amazon Echo’s collaboration with SmartThings, users will now be able to use Echo to control their SmartThings products.

“By starting sentences with ‘Alexa,’ you can play music, hear the news, get the forecast, and now… control your SmartThings-compatible lights, switches, and anything plugged in to the SmartThings Power Outlet,” the company stated in a blog post.

SmartThings sells a range of connected products, ranging from door locks to light switches to fire alarms, all of which can be monitored and controlled via the SmartThings mobile app and SmartThings Hub.

Amazon Echo’s capabilities and technology falls right in line with SmartThings’ specialization in IoT.

The Echo was initially launched back in November 2014 on an invite-only release, but was recently made available for everyone to purchase in late June.

In the seven months between Echo’s first release and its launch to the general public, Amazon said Alexa had improved its ability to answer questions, enhanced its speech recognition and accuracy, and expanded its skill set.

“The customer response to Amazon Echo has been incredibly positive, and we’ve been working hard to build more as quickly as possible. We are grateful to our early customers for their incredible engagement and for providing us with invaluable feedback to help shape Echo as it evolves — with their help, we’ve been able to add features like Audible, Pandora, home automation, sports scores, calendar and more,” Amazon Echo Vice President Greg Hart said in a company release back in June.

“We’re excited to get Echo into the hands of even more customers and continue to invent new features and experiences.”

Earlier this month, the eCommerce giant announced it secured a deal with Staples to sell its voice-controlled smart speaker on Staples.com, which was given the exclusive rights as Amazon’s third-party retailer for the device. The device will sell for $179.99, which is the same price it’s listed at on Amazon.

Amazon hasn’t released specific figures about how many Echos it has sold, but it did announce that it sold 4,000 of the devices on its Amazon Prime Day last month. Outside of Amazon and Staples.com, the device won’t be offered elsewhere for now, but Brittany Turner, an Amazon spokeswoman, told Bloomberg that that partnership is similar to ones it has with other retailers on specific products.

“Our goal is to make our devices available wherever customers want to buy them,” she said.

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