Amazon Is Listening
This past Thursday saw the announcement from Amazon about their latest addition to their product portfolio, the Amazon Echo.
A sleek design very similar to the logitech UE boom, the Amazon Echo is aiming to be Siri for the home. Voice activated (via an chosen word), the Echo will do all the things you expect from the latest mobile phone assistants. It can set reminders, answer questions, play music and more (although how it will do with my Scottish accent will be an interesting conundrum) as well as being a high-quality speaker similar to offerings from Bose.
The UK/EU price is likely to be set at around a reasonable €150, with a further discount for Amazon Prime members. Soon we will know if this is manages to find itself in the average home. Coming it at a low price could see it being a cost effective way of starting a smart home.
Better than the rest?
Having used Siri, and others, for several years I have still yet to get past the stage of it being simply a gimmick. If I want to search for something I’ll be happy enough to quickly open up a browser and google it, the uncertainty of the phone understanding my (very slight to be fair) Scottish accent is not worth the hassle most of the time.
The Amazon Echo, with it’s seven microphones and a constantly updating AI, could finally be a device that understand normal human speech, as opposed to the robot-like speech most of us are forced to adopt when employing a voice-enabled device. A parody video of a pair of Scotsman in an elevator comes to mind, be sure to have a look for it and you’ll understand the issues those with non-American accents face at times.
The Amazon Echo connects via wifi and bluetooth and stores it’s “brain” in the could. It will, as with many current voice assistance, learn to understand you better over time. It also has a companion app for iOS and android that can function as a remote control or additional microphone.
The music streaming capability is a great idea, you can simply ask to play a genre of music and it will start straight away. The downside of this feature is that it is imitated to a small set of Amazon approved providers, it will still work with third party providers but only via the remote control or dedicated app.
We’ll wait till we get our hands on one before coming to a definitive conclusion, however, I believe this will be a success and a great way for the average consumer to get closer to a Smart home.
Once amazon ties the device in with it’s shop it could likely improve their “one-click” shopping service to a “no-click” service. Only time will tell
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