Amazon Echo devices hit by Christmas Day outage as thousands set up Alexa speaker

The Independent - Tech

Amazon Echo devices were hit by a major outage on Christmas Day after new owners reported issues with the smart home speaker. Users in the UK and across Europe took to social media to complain of difficulties in setting up the Alexa voice assistant, with some suggesting that the large number of new owners attempting to connect. "Good luck to everyone who was delighted to receive their Amazon Echo this morning," one person wrote on Twitter. "Amazon has been a victim of its own success. Imagine the fun that new owners have been experiencing this morning, unsure as to why their new gadget isn't working."


Amazon Echo Christmas features update lets you ask Alexa: 'Do you believe in Santa Claus?'

The Independent - Tech

A festive update for the Amazon Echo has enabled a brand new set of Christmas features for its Alexa voice assistant. Owners can ask the smart speaker to sing a Christmas carol, tell a Christmas story, or even find out if Alexa believes in Santa Claus. A number of other Alexa Skills available for download include Christmas Radio, Christmas Sounds, and Christmas Countdown - all of which are free to enable. An Alexa Skill from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) allows people to ask their Amazon Echo device for the whereabouts of Santa Claus. "Just try saying'Alexa, where's Santa'," the Skill's description states.


Amazon builds vest for workers to protect them from robots

The Independent - Tech

Amazon has developed a piece of wearable technology for its workers that will protect them from robot-related accidents. The Robotic Tech Vest is designed for Amazon employees working in warehouse fulfilment centres alongside autonomous robots. Featuring built-in sensors, the electronic belt provides warning alerts to nearby robots to inform them of a worker's presence. Its deployment across more than 25 Amazon sites follows incidents in which workers were injured as a result of a robot's actions. In December, 24 Amazon workers at a warehouse in New Jersey were hospitalised after a robot reportedly punctured a can of bear repellent.


Amazon rolls out new delivery robot called Scout

The Independent - Tech

Amazon has launched a new robot delivery service in the US using a six wheeled machine that is "the size of a small cooler". The Amazon Scout uses self-driving technology to navigate through neighbourhoods to deliver packages to Amazon Prime customers, though its initial roll out is limited. The first deliveries are taking place in Snohomish County, just to the north of Amazon's headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Deliveries will be limited to daylight hours between Monday and Friday amd only six of the Scout delivery robots will be deployed at first. Each will also be accompanied by an Amazon employee to ensure they can safely navigate around any pedestrians or pets it might come across.


Project Kuiper: Amazon to launch 3,000 satellites to offer broadband internet service from space

The Independent - Tech

Tech giant Amazon is planning to set up a network of more than 3,000 satellites in order to provide a high-speed broadband internet service from space. In his latest space venture, Jeff Bezos plans to establish 3,236 satellites that will provide high-speed internet access to people around the world. In recent weeks, Amazon has been posting job adverts for the project, named Project Kuiper, after a part of the distant solar system believed to contain many comets, asteroids, and other small bodies. It was discovered by the late Dutch American astronomer Gerard Kuiper. We'll tell you what's true.