Internet giant, Amazon, has revealed its latest vision for smart homes to be powered by Alexa, with a range of new gadgets and features it hopes will take the world by storm. The company wants to push its technology further into the home by popularizing technology that hasn’t yet gone mainstream. CEO, Jeff Bezos, hopes to link people and machines by voice on a larger scale, accepted in the same way as we use a mouse to control a computer or a touchscreen to control a smartphone.
The Echo Dot is one of Amazon’s bestselling devices and is already in many homes. Recent additions have been a subwoofer and amplifiers that work like audio control centres for the home.
The Echo speaker with voice assistant technology, that debuted in 2014, has triumphed over its competitors, such as Google Assist and Apple Siri. According to online marketer, EMarketer, approximately two-thirds of smart technology users in America will use the Amazon Echo this year. Amazon has also improved the Echo Show speaker which now has a bigger screen and better sound.
Some of the technology that Amazon is planning to introduce is brand new, such as the Alexa Guard. This ‘handy home security product’ can detect breaking glass in your home and hazards, like carbon dioxide, by sending an alert to your mobile phone. Not only is this innovative technology, it also has the potential for being a great safety device for your home. However, your home is not the only personal space that Amazon is hoping to permeate but also your car, with the Echo Auto. The technology accesses car speaker systems via Bluetooth and uses your phone to connect to the cloud, enabling users to ask Alexa for directions or locate the nearest restaurant.
As a nation, the UK’s appetite for smartphone devices, including speakers, lights and thermostats, is growing. The battle for market share is fierce, with Alphabet Inc.’s Google, ADT and Samsung competing alongside a host of new companies.
It is estimated that 10% of UK consumers use voice-activated technology daily, the most popular uses being to play music, find directions or getting weather updates, according to surveys.
Amazon’s next step is to use artificial intelligence to make Alexa even smarter. There are rumours of a new feature, Alexa Hunches, designed to analyse your movement habits and alert you to anything out of the ordinary. While this might seem a little creepy, it could be a real asset for people with memory issues or Alzheimer’s. For instance, if you retire for the evening without switching off the porch light, Alexa could remind you: when you say, “Alexa, good night”, it will reply, “you left the porch light on. Should it be turned off?”
This kind of technology is mind blowing and exciting for the future. We could soon have technology that runs our homes with little input from ourselves. The only question is: how much help do we really need before we start becoming too dependent on technology? And will we lose the ability to start doing things ourselves? Only time will tell, but as long as this new technology is used in a positive way then those promoting it believe it can only be beneficial.