Yesterday, Amazon announced a bevy of updates at its fall event. Countless new devices were unveiled including eight new Echo devices, and additional items ran the gamut from smart glasses, to connected dog collars, all the way to an Alexa-powered ring (yes, jewelry)! Some of the items seem promising, and some are probably experiments, eventually to be scrapped due to lackluster responses from consumers (RIP Dash button, we barely knew thee).
The number of devices and Alexa updates was too much ground to cover, truly, but we’ll talk about two of the categories that stood out to us.
Smart Home Devices
One product that is likely to be successful is the Alexa Smart Oven, which goes for about $250 and follows the success of last year’s AmazonBasics Microwave (read about it on The Verge). With an almost $200 increase in price, the Alexa Smart Oven one-ups the Microwave with additional functionalities; it also works as a convection cooker, air fryer, and food warmer. Its Alexa capabilities are expanded too. There’s a “scan-to-cook” feature that reportedly works with hundreds of prepackaged foods already, but that number will likely be bigger soon — we expect to see Amazon-owned Whole Foods experimenting with their products to make the most of that functionality.
The Alexa Smart Oven is basically a guaranteed success, because even if Alexa spectacularly fails (she won’t), the appliance still has three functions in the kitchen. More interesting than this appliance, though, is what’s to come. According to Amazon’s official press release, the company has partnered with several global brands to produce a parade of appliances that work in harmony with Alexa. Exciting!
Later this year, customers can enjoy even more convenient, voice-controlled cooking and small kitchen appliances from top brands including Crock-Pot, GE Appliances, Hamilton Beach, Instant Pot, June Oven, LG, and Whirlpool; new support for garage door openers from beam Home and Nexx; and smart blinds and shades from IKEA, Legrand, Lutron, Schellenberg, and Somfy. Other Alexa-compatible devices coming soon for the home include new products from Procter & Gamble, Dyson, Mr. Christmas, Traeger, and more—all Alexa controlled and designed to make your smart home even smarter.
Along with devices for your kitchen, Amazon also announced a new Wi-Fi system similar to Google WiFi. Also debuted was Echo Glow, a voice-controlled smart lamp for children that emits ambient light, has a timer, and plays music, and Alexa Guard, a term used to encapsulate a number of security features that you can now control using the smart assistant.
An expanded partnership with automaker GM also shows that Amazon is looking to extend their reach into your automobiles; an announcement from the company describes GM as the first car manufacturer to offer “a fully embedded Alexa experience” and goes on to say, “The best part is that this isn’t just about brand new vehicles. It’ll also be available to millions of existing vehicles on the road with a simple over-the-air update.”
Amazon is clearly making a bet that people will want their homes and lives to be fully equipped with smart devices, and they want to be company consumers turn to. For people hesitant to step into the smart home game, Amazon has made it easier to get them on board by launching a page called Certified for Humans, which lists Alexa-enabled devices screened by the company to make sure they are “frustration-free” and easy to set up.
Perhaps the most buzzworthy device so far is the Echo Frames, Amazon’s smart glasses. They have no display functionality but allow you to communicate with Alexa through microphones in the arms of the glasses. Users can trigger Alexa through a wake word and communicate with her through whispers in their ears.
We’ve seen devices like this from companies like Google, Microsoft, and Snapchat, but they seem to be a niche product with no widely chosen consumer favorite. Will Amazon fill that space? Maybe, if they can prove that Alexa’s capabilities are impressive enough to make access to her as crucial to consumers as the apparatus that helps them see.
Along with the glasses, Amazon announced the Echo Loop, a smart ring that lets wearers “keep Alexa on hand.” It’s $130 and seems to carry out all of the functions of a regular Alexa, just… on the go. The ring is not particularly attractive, but I’m not sure how much we can expect from a piece of jewelry that is also a computer.
The concept of having Alexa on hand all of the time does seem convenient, and if smart assistants really become a huge part of our daily lives in the future then Amazon is definitely doing everything they can to make themselves the easiest choice for consumers. However, at this stage they seem to be testing a lot of different options with the plan to lean into whatever is successful. That is, after all, the Amazon way. Still, with all of the devices to choose from (headphones, for example) I can’t see why someone would opt for these bulky glasses or a computer-ring.
Which announcement was your favorite? Is there anything that you want for yourself? Anything you think will flop? Leave us a comment below or get in touch on our LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!