Amazon announces Alexa is coming to headphones, smartwatches and fitness trackers
05 January, 2018, 13:44
Yes, you heard that right. While 2017 has been a banner year for smart speakers in terms of hardware sales, especially for Google and Amazon, smart speakers in 2018 will move beyond hardware, with strategic attempts to monetize the growing installed base in the U.S. and beyond. Amazon and Google try to recoup revenue through other means, like commissions on sales items and customer data-sharing arrangements.
The TV remote of Comcast Xfinity Home also is voice enabled, transforming that remote to a central smart home control point.
As we all know, smart home companies can integrate into Google Assistant/Home in one of two ways. Now you can build skills to enable customers in the USA to control their microwave ovens using Alexa. Conventional ovens - as long as they connect wirelessly - will be next.
The end game for Amazon appears to be to make it really easy to order from Amazon using its smart speakers, and get as many of its smart speakers into homes as possible.
The Echo was $200 when it launched - far too expensive for a lot of people to justify using voice controls to turn on the lights or play music when walking up and pushing a switch or pressing a button worked just fine. Indeed the new API software is an improvement. The interfaces are designed for future extensibility as support for more cooking devices becomes available.
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To make this a success Amazon is also working with a handful of partners or developers to be precise, but it is yet to be seen as to how quickly the support will roll out. Next up? Controlling your kitchen appliances starting with microwave ovens.
Amazon says that, to begin with, Alexa will be able to set microwave cook times, modes and power levels, but there's no word as to whether the AI assistant is yet smart enough to figure out how to set the ruddy clock. GE, Kenmore, LG and Samsung will also sell new products with Alexa.
The new feature, called Flash Briefing, is easily set up after downloading the Amazon Alexa app on an iOS or Android device.
The catch, as you might imagine, is that your ovens and microwaves need to support this feature, and nearly all "smart" versions now don't.
All in all, this is an interesting development in the technology sphere. In 2016, as its Echo device and Alexa technology started to pick up momentum, Amazon made announcements with companies like Ford, HomeAdvisor, Whirlpool, and others who were integrating Alexa into their own products.
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