Via LinkedIn : Amazon Echo – Forget space, your home is now the final frontier as a Start Trek style voice assistant who quite literally answers to the name Alexa is heading to a home near you courtesy of Amazon who have announced a new product called “Echo” which is basically a Siri-style personal assistant inside a speaker.
Although your first impressions may leave you feeling that this is an April Fools prank, rest assured this is a real product and a canny attempt for Amazon to work with everyone inside your home whilst also beating Apple and Google in the process.
The device which resembles a speaker sits in your home and is controlled by your voice in same way that you would ask Google or Siri to obtain Information such as music, news or weather updates for example.
Echo will sit in your home with voice recognition that hears you from across the room waiting for someone to say the words “Alexa” followed by your request.
Anyone that has seen the somewhat prophetic Spike Jonze movie Her last year will find more than a few parallels with the trailer for Amazon Echo where a whole family talks to the device in their home asking various questions.
Echo is regularly priced at $199. But for a limited time, Amazon will offer Echo for $99 to Prime members who receive an invite making this the must have show-off gadget for many this Christmas as Granny sits in the corner muttering “technology is going too far now!” and the more cynical amongst you might point out this is not harmless fun aimed at making your life easier but actually a Trojan horse of sorts to penetrate our homes and bombard us all with adverts.
The instant question that most people will ask is, do I really need another device that simply replicates what I already have on my phone? However, it would seem that ultimately we are all suckers for another gadget that we might want rather than need, but have we been conditioned this way?
James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research interestingly pointed out that “Every major digital platform company from Google to Apple wants to put sensors in your home. Google has thermostats and cameras thanks to its acquisition of Nest and Dropcam, Apple has added HomeKit, a set of developer tools for building apps for the home”
But Amazon is the first to put a persistent microphone interface in your home, a listening and learning service that is ready to hear your every command. Sure, it doubles as a connected speaker and some people will end up buying it for that, but the Echo will only achieve its real purpose when you start asking it questions, having it complete tasks for you — especially shopping tasks — just the way Apple hopes its users will interact with Apple Watch.
The key to its success will be if consumers are ready to invite a device into their homes that is connected to the internet and listens to their every word in these times where privacy is becoming an increasing concern, but equally I wonder how much more positive this would be if it was Apple that released a similar product who seem to have a fearlessly loyal fan base.
Amazon led the way on e-commerce with their one click to buy ethos and this latest offering is intended to make it even easier but in all honesty my current smartphone covers all my requirements but that did not stop me from requesting an invite to pick one up, for research purposes only you understand.
As we increasingly learn how the Internet of Things will dominate every aspect of our lives where everything from refrigerators to car dashboards have an internet connection, this could be the moment where we stop talking about the future of technology and realise that products like Amazon Echo are proving that the future we dreamt of is right here and right now.