Remember Amazon’s in-home Dash scanner? Now the tech mavens at its R&D lab are making more inroads on the connected home with Echo, its first voice recognition product, and (according to Gizmodo), Amazon’s “most innovative device in years.”
Pitched as “Always ready, connected, and fast. Just ask,” Echo is a home speaker with a brain that aims to be the digital hub of a home. Voice recognition lets it relay music, news, weather and other audio-transmittable content on command, from a range of sources including Amazon Prime.
“Amazon Echo is designed around your voice,” Amazon’s product page notes. “It’s always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, ‘Alexa.’ It’s also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.” (You can choose your “wake word”—including, presumably, “Siri.”)[more]
The digital assistant can also add to shopping lists, provide “flash news briefings” and answer questions—including jokes. Also boasting “enhanced noise cancellation, Echo can hear you ask a question even while it’s playing music,” and uses “far field technology” so it can hear requests from anywhere in the room.
There’s also a Siri-like element of artificial intelligence, as the hub gets updates and answers “in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.”
Priced at $199 (or $99 for Prime members for a limited time), request an invitation to create an Echo chamber in your home—and check out the launch video below.