Amazon.com Inc on Sept 25 is scheduled to announce its new Alexa-driven devices – the latest effort to transcend the kitchen counter and embed the digital voice assistant more deeply in people’s lives.
Amazon hasn’t said what products are coming, but Bloomberg has previously reported that the company is working on Alexa-powered earbuds, a better-sounding Echo smart speaker, a health tracker and a domestic robot.
It’s a good bet that one or more of these will take center stage at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters:Earbuds: They would compete with Apple AirPods and include a case for carrying and re-charging. The earbuds will be cheaper than Apple’s US$159 (RM664) headphones, but require a smartphone to function as they won’t have cellular connectivity.
High-End Echo: Look for Amazon to position a better-sounding Echo as a rival to Apple’s HomePod, the Google Home Max and the latest offerings from Sonos.
Health tracker: The health and wellness bracelet is designed to pair with a smartphone app. Code-named Dylan, the device could even give Alexa the ability to recognise human emotions and offer wearers tips on how to interact more effectively with others.
Home robot: People familiar with the project have said the bot, dubbed Vesta, could be a sort of mobile Alexa, accompanying customers in rooms where they don’t have Echo devices.
Amazon also will roll out annual upgrades to its existing array of Echo speakers and television set-top boxes. Look, too, for the company to continue its strategy of embedding Alexa in more device categories, as it has already done with a wall clock and microwave oven.
Voice-activated gadgets are increasingly popular, despite concerns about how Amazon and other companies use the information picked up by their microphones. About 31% of US households own a smart speaker, according to the Consumer Technology Association. Amazon accounted for about a quarter of the 26.1 million smart speakers sold worldwide during the second quarter, says researcher Canalys. – Bloomberg
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