Amazon is set to give its Echo speaker a radical overhaul – and a screen.
According to CNET, Amazon will reveal the new Echo device, codenamed ‘Knight’ next month.
Earlier this week it introduced Echo Look, a ‘style assistant’ smart camera priced at $200.
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According to CNET, Amazon will reveal the new Echo device, codenamed ‘Knight’ next month. Earlier this week it introduced Echo Look, a ‘style assistant’ smart camera priced at $200.
Amazon Echo is a voice-controlled smart speaker that works alongside a smartphone app.
Using a virtual assistant called Alexa, the speaker can respond to voice commands from the user, such as setting an alarm or ordering a cab.
Echo also works with services like Spotify as a 360-degree wireless speaker.
According to CNET, Amazon got a ‘wake-up call’ last week after Google said its Home smart speakers can now identify multiple users, a feature Echo devices don’t have.
Amazon’s devices team may now be looking to speed up introduction of these products so they can stay ahead of Google, the person added.
The new device may help Amazon expand and improve the Echo’s capabilities in more areas, including video chats and online shopping, making the gadget more of a must-have item for homes.
Amazon sold an estimated 8 million Echo devices in the US since the product first launched, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners said in January.
Earlier this year Bloomberg, said the new version of the hit speaker will come complete with a 7inch touchscreen.
‘The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter,’ Mark Gurman of Bloomberg wrote.
‘The latest Amazon speaker will be larger and tilt upwards so the screen can be seen when it sits on a counter and the user is standing, one of the people said,’
The speakers innards are also set for an overhaul, with ‘high-grade speakers’ boosting its sound quality, it is claimed.
ECHO LOOK ‘STYLE ASSISTANT’
Amazon’s Echo Look smart camera is priced at $200.
It is not yet available to buy in the UK, and those who want to buy it in the US can do so on an invite-only basis.
Powered by Alexa, the device takes full-length photos and videos from all angles to help users pick the right outfit.
Amazon has released the Echo Look, which is an Alexa-powered camera that takes full-length photos and short videos of you and your home. Experts have warned that many Echo Look customers do not fully understand the data that they are handing to Amazon
The app lets users create a personal lookbook, browse your outfits, and use computer vision-based background blur to make your outfits pop.
The new feature, called Style Check, uses advanced machine learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists to let users know whether their choice in clothing was a do or a don’t.
Amazon’s newly-announced Echo Look uses the company’s Alexa AI to take photos and videos of you and make judgements on outfits.
But experts have expressed concern over the privacy issues surrounding a camera that regularly takes and stores pictures of users and their homes.
Amazon is increasingly facing competition for the Echo, and figures released yesterday claim over 5.1 million have been sold – although Amazon refuses to reveal the exact number.
The new Amazon device will use an optimized version of Fire OS, the software that runs Amazon’s Fire tablets and Fire TV set-top box, which can also use Alexa.
The cylindrical speaker uses Amazon’s personal voice assistant called Alexa, which is similar to Apple’s Siri.
It was recently launched in the UK, and a new white version of the speaker has also been introduced for the European debut, to sit alongside the original black model.
Initially only available to Prime subscribers, the Echo was made available to all all US customer in June 2015.
Previously, Amazon has delayed launching the product in other countries because of concerns that Alexa would not understand accents outside of America.
WHAT IS GOOGLE HOME?
Google Home is a small speaker that will be able to play music and access Google Assistant, a new AI system the search giant unveiled at I/O in May.
It will harness the power of Google’s search engine along with the AI technology the firm developed to beat a grandmaster at the ancient board game Go to create assistants people can talk and text with as if they were a human being.Downl
Google Home (pictured) is the small speaker will be able to play music and access Google Assistant, a new AI system the search giant unveiled at I/O in May. It’s believed Apple has been working on their smart-home device for at least 2 years
The gadget is also a high quality speaker, Google claims, allowing users to play back music from online services of a phone.
It can also control other speakers, forming a voice controlled multi room hifi system, and control other devices such as lights and Google’s Nest thermostat.
The voice controlled assistant will be able to control devices and answer queries.
The software has since been tweaked to cope with both British and German voices.
David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president for devices, envisions the voice assistant functioning like the ‘Star Trek computer’, in that it will answer users no matter where they are in their home and right away.
Alexa is the ‘wake word’ for the internet-connected speaker.
Alexa can respond to voice commands with actions such as setting an alarm, or simply by providing a spoken answer to a question.
Shoppers can also ask Alexa to put products on their Amazon shopping list
The smart speaker learns as it goes along, getting to know the user’s speech patterns, vocabulary and preferences.
The cylindrical speaker, which is also coming to Germany, uses Amazon’s personal voice assistant called Alexa, which is similar to Apple’s Siri
Echo has seven hidden microphones to ensure that it can pick up voice commands from anywhere in the room.
With built-in Bluetooth, the Wi-Fi-connected Echo also functions as a 360-degree wireless speaker.
The speaker enables hands-free voice control from the likes of Amazon Music, Spotify and other streaming services.
Echo also works with a number of other firms such as Uber, enabling users to order a cab with a spoken command.
Other firms included for the UK launch are Just Eat, National Rail and Sky Sports.
Alexa can also be used to controlled smart home appliances including Hive, Nest and Hue.
To ensure the privacy of Echo users, pressing the mute button will cut all power to the microphones.
Users will also be able to delete voice searches from the Alexa app if they choose.
The smaller Echo Dot speaker will launch on 20 October with a price tag of £49.99 ($49.99, €59.99).
This device enables buyers to position the Alexa voice assistant in additional rooms around the house.
Savings will be available for those who buy the Dot speaker in batches of six or 12.
Commenting on the launch, Warwick Business School professor Mark Skilton, a professor of Practice at Warwick Business School said:
‘We are a long way off artificial general intelligence where a machine is fully able to think as a human; but the days of the keyboard and mouse are numbered.
‘The point that [Echo] does not have a screen is not relevant as when you use it, the voice interaction is natural and the issue is more in learning the range of ‘skills’ it can do to help you.
‘We have grown up with poor voice recognition and error prone requests on our mobile devices but Amazon started a full 12 months before Google on developing a high precision microphone and voice recognition system that is built into its marketplace ecosystem’.