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Alexa is the quiet star of CES
Alexa, the “AI” assistant that powers Amazon’s range of smart home speakers, has already proven popular after the strong launch of the Amazon Echo and Dot last year, and the company is stepping up the expansion of its ecosystem this year. At CES 2017, a huge range of products sporting Alexa have popped up in a variety of segments, making it one of the hidden stars of the show.
Beyond speakers, Amazon’s intelligent assistant is now being packaged in with televisions, lamps, and even refrigerators. This distribution strategy is a departure from Amazon’s previous focus on in-house hardware, but this doesn’t mean that the Echo range is going anywhere. With competition heating up from the likes of Google Home, focusing on getting its software into as many products as possible is Amazon’s big play to secure itself a dominant market position.
LG, Whirlpool, Belkin, and Lenovo are just some of the major brands to have packed in Alexa software into some of their CES hardware releases. Here’s a list of just some of the more interesting products announced at CES 2017 which are powered by Alexa.
- Lenovo’s Smart Assistant Speaker. Essentially an Amazon Echo clone with a 5-watt tweeter and a 10-watt woofer for audio for better sounding music. You can also stump up an extra $50 for a Harman Kardon edition with premium audio features.
- The C by GE Lamp, an internet-connected desk lamp that can pair with your phone via WiFi and features an integrated mic and speaker for all your virtual assistant needs.
- Triby smart radio. If you’re more into listening to the radio than MP3, then you might be interested in Triby, a magnetic vintage looking radio with an e-ink display and voice controls.
- Hopper DVR. DISH has teamed up with Amazon to integrated Alexa into the Hopper DVR to enable a hands-free, voice controlled TV experience.
- Samsung POWERbot VR7000. Forget the roomba, this is a robot vacuum that you can command with your voice.
That’s just a small sample, a range of other manufacturers have also come out with Alexa compatible speakers, home appliances, lamps, and switches of their own. Although we should point out that these products are mostly listed as compatible with Alexa, and therefore many have their own software and companion apps that are linked to Amazon’s software in order to make use of their individual features. So there’s not necessarily universal feature cross compatibility between devices made by different manufacturers.
The rollout of a wide ecosystem of compatible products is clearly great news for Amazon, but it’s also a boon for consumers too. By pushing Alexa into many more products, there’s a greater chance of it becoming a household name. The more products that Alexa powers and sells then the more data Amazon is able to collect for analysis, and the more powerful and useful Alexa becomes.
Amazon has gradually been increasing its software integration with other platforms, including Uber, FitBit, and even Domino’s Pizza. Amazon’s system isn’t perfect yet, and more needs to be done to help all of these different gadgets communicate with each other fully if the company wants to power everything in future smart homes, but that’s likely to come in time.
Either way, this is a bold new move for Amazon and certainly keeps the company’s smart home ecosystem as a major player. Expect to see a lot more Alexa powered products hitting store shelves this year.