Amazon just announced its new line of Echo devices, and they are drastically different than the ones we have grown to love. Their form factor is completely new for 2020, and even more exciting is the fact that they are now available for pre-order. Echo devices and their built-in smart assistant, Alexa, have become the most popular names in smart home following their 2014 debut. Every year since, Amazon has launched new smart speakers, displays, earbuds, fashion assistants, and even eyeglasses. Some of it sticks, and some gets phased.
Amazon-owned Ring announced a new line of security cameras for cars: The new $199 Car Cam, $60 Car Alarm, and the Car Connect systems, which lal integrate with the Ring app. The Car Alarm plugs into your car's OBD-II diagnostic port and sends alerts to your phone. It has a built-in siren that can be remotely triggered, or it can link to other Ring or Alexa devices to emit audible alerts when an event is detected. As for the Car Cam, it is Ring's first camera for outside of the home and has the ability to record both inside and outside of the car when mounted on a dashboard. Like the Car Alarm, the Car Cam can send alerts.
The all new Echo Show 10 might be the biggest news to come out of the firehose of Amazon's Devices & Services event today. The new smart display features a 10-inch touchscreen that rotates around its base so that it's always within your line of sight. Amazon says it's adding Netflix support, too, so you won't miss a second of Stranger Things while you're otherwise busy cooking dinner. To assuage privacy concerns, Amazon says the new smart display triangulates on a human figure, not facial recognition, and that the artificial intelligence processing required to pull off the trick is performed on the device, not in the cloud. You can also turn the feature off with the voice command "Alexa, turn off motion."
Amazon is making Alexa smarter with natural turn taking, having conversations with multiple people, natural language understanding and the ability to be taught by customers. The first target is the smart home, but Alexa for Business is also likely to follow. The Alexa overhaul and artificial intelligence improvements were outlined as Amazon launched its latest batch of Echo devices. Amazon's new Echo devices are evolving to be more smart home edge computing devices. For instance, Amazon's Echo devices are using the company's AZ1 Neural Edge processor with 20x less power, double the speech processing and 85% lower memory usage.
Amazon on Thursday unveiled a refreshed lineup of Amazon Echo smart speakers, featuring a new, custom chip that will help the AI-powered assistant Alexa respond to commands more quickly. The new devices also include a new design and new features for kids. Amazon also unveiled the Echo Show 10, a smart speaker with a screen that can follow you as you move throughout a room. "In processing, milliseconds matter," Miriam Daniel, VP of Amazon Echo, said during a virtual event hosted by Amazon's Devices and Services team. "Imagine asking Alexa to turn on the light, and there's a slight delay," she explained.
At its annual hardware event, Amazon today announced new capabilities for its Alexa personal assistant that will allow it to become more personalized as it can now ask clarifying questions and then use this personalized data to interact with the user later on. In addition, Alexa can now join a conversation, too, starting a mode where you don't have to say'hey Alexa' all the time. With that, multiple users can interact with Alexa and the system will chime in when it's appropriate (or not -- since we haven't tested this yet). As Amazon VP and head scientist Rohit Prasad noted, the system for asking questions and personalizing responses uses a deep learning-based approach that allows Alexa to acquire new concepts and actions based on what it learns from customers. Whatever it learns is personalized and only applies to this individual customer.
The watchful eye of Amazon just got smarter. At its hardware release event Thursday, Amazon debuted its latest smart assistant with a screen, the Echo Show 10. If you move around a room while you're on a video call, the camera will follow you. This feature actually is pretty convenient if you're trying to multi-task while on a video call, or if you're doing some sort of presentation that requires you to move around. The camera supposedly "pans and zooms" to keep you centered and in focus.
For the fourth year running, Amazon has a new smart display. The $250 Echo Show 10 has a rotating base that can turn the screen silently to face you whereever you are in a room. Amazon suggests that could be useful for hands-free video calls as you're moving around. The device will support Zoom calls, Skype and Amazon Chime, while Amazon is adding a group calling feature with up to eight people in a video chat. During video calls, the 13 MP camera can automatically pan and zoom to keep you centered in the frame.
Last year's Echo was a complete home run for Amazon -- it delivered excellent sound quality and responsive microphones for a relatively inexpensive $100. So how can it make the flagship Alexa speaker any better? It's still $100, but now it looks even more like something ripped from a sci-fi film. The flagship Echo is also being joined by a new Echo Dot that also looks like a sphere, and keeps the low $50 price. There's also an Echo Dot with a clock display for $60, which could make a great bedside companion.
Have you considered integrating home automation components such as smart switches in your residence? Allow my experience to serve as a cautionary tale. Earlier this year, I completed a multi-year dream project: My very own wet bar for entertaining. The project required demolition of the floor to accommodate new sanitary lines for hot and cold water, as well as new plumbing for a sink, a dishwasher, an icemaker, and an espresso machine. The project also required a lot of new electrical circuitry for integrated dimmable LED lighting.