Amazon is to start selling its voice controlled speaker the Amazon Echo in the UK and Germany. Amazon Echo is a cylindrical, voice-controlled speaker which also increasingly functions as a smart home digital assistant. Triggered by someone saying the name Alexa (or Amazon, or Echo) it can play music you ask for from services like Amazon Music and Spotify, or play audio books from Audible. When it detects the wake word, Echo's light ring turns blue and begins streaming the request to the cloud: the spoken request is sent to Amazon Web Services to process it and respond, using a neural network-based speech recognition system to recognise what is being asked for. The device can respond to questions such as "Alexa, will it rain tomorrow?",
Amazon does not disclose Echo sales figures but has said it had trouble keeping the product in stock. Device sales and extra revenue from shoppers placing orders via Alexa could generate $10 billion for Amazon by 2020, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said in a recent note. And that does not include potential revenue from others using Alexa as a platform.
A ring, glasses and earbuds are among Amazon's latest voice-controlled devices to offer "even more ways to add Alexa to your daily life". Released last week, several of the products are grouped under Amazon's Echo smart speaker range. They include differently sized Echo speakers and wearables, and depend on the company's voice-activated, artificially intelligent assistant Alexa. The broad range is intended to "make your home smarter and safer, keep family and friends connected, and bring your favourite entertainment to you, wherever you are", according to Amazon. "Amazon introduced an all-new line-up of Echo devices that give you even more ways to add Alexa to your daily life – whether at home or on-the-go," it added.
Amazon is launching Echo Show, a new Alexa-powered smart speaker that includes a 7in touchscreen and video-calling features, as it enters the next stage in an ongoing battle with Google to become the most popular in-home voice assistant. Echo Show, which will cost $230 in the US and will ship on 28 June (no UK release date is set), will operate like Amazon's existing Echo and Echo Dot wifi-connected smart speakers, putting the company's artificially intelligent voice assistant Alexa into the home. But unlike Amazon's previous voice-only smart speakers, it will also have a touchscreen to show extra information, play videos from YouTube and elsewhere, show results for questions and other visual information that's currently displayed when Alexa is asked a question on the firm's Fire TV smart devices. Amazon said: "Voice responses from Alexa are now enhanced with visuals and optimised for visibility across the room. Call or message your family and friends that also have an Echo or the Alexa App, get the news with a video flash briefing, see your Prime Photos, shop with your voice, see lyrics with Amazon Music, and more.
Most people have an Amazon Echo in their kitchen or living room - but the CEO of Amazon keeps one in his bathroom. In a recent interview with Billboard, Jeff Bezos revealed there is a smart speaker in every room of his house, including his water closet. The tech tycoon moved a device into the room after being frustrated when he could not ask Alexa about the weather while on the toilet. Most people keep an Amazon Echo in their kitchen or living room, but the CEO of Amazon has one in his bathroom. Amazon Echo is a voice-controlled smart speaker that works alongside a smartphone app.