You might think that gadgets like the Amazon Echo are just fancy internet-connected speakers, but think again, they have evolved to become the central foundation of any smart home.
If you're planning on turning your house into a smart one, getting a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home is your essential first step.
And because of this, Amazon is going all-in with Alexa to take over more parts of your home. The company's ambition is to bring its smart assistant everywhere, sort of like an all-hearing digital butler.
From your bedroom to your kitchen, to your car, expect Alexa to be ready to aid you, even in places you least expect.
Where is Alexa headed? Read on and see what new Alexa gadgets Amazon has in the pipeline. You'll be surprised!
Fun fact: Why is Alexa named Alexa in the first place? According to David Limp, Amazon's senior vice president who's in charge of Alexa and other Amazon devices, it was "a little reminiscent of the library of Alexander" which was at one time the keeper of "all knowledge." Additionally, "Alexa" used soft vowels and an "x," which sounded unique.
Oh boy! Eight new Alexa-powered gadgets
A report from CNBC revealed that Amazon is ramping up its Alexa game and is planning on releasing at least eight new voice-controlled, Alexa-powered devices before the end of the year.
Among others, here are the upcoming Alexa-powered gadgets we know of so far:
- A microwave oven
- An amplifier
- A (home theater) receiver
- A subwoofer
- An in-car gadget
The CNBC report did not specify which of these gadgets are merely Alexa-controllable as opposed to having Alexa actually built into them (similar to the Ecobee4 smart thermostat) but we'll know soon enough -- Amazon is expected to reveal some of these new devices at an event later this month.
Turning your house into a smart home is exciting but be careful! Listen to this Komando On Demand podcast to learn how to watch for the warning signs so technology doesn't take over your home.
Why would you want an Alexa microwave oven?
Amazon's newest foray into home appliances and car gadgets is in line with the online shopping giant's grand plan of taking its Alexa technology everywhere. Part of the company's strategy is to target areas where people spend most of their time -- hence the focus on your home and your car.
Imagine how it will be to heat something in an Alexa-powered microwave oven. You probably won't even have to set timers anymore, just tell Alexa to "cook (insert-flavor-here) soup" or "heat my (insert-brand-here) TV Dinner" and she will do the rest.
Not only that, as with other Echo gadgets, an Alexa-powered microwave oven can be your central smart kitchen hub where you play music, get news, control other smart appliances, get recipes, etc.
And if you ask me, the Alexa-enabled amplifier, receiver, and subwoofer is probably a line of voice-controlled soundbars and all-in-one home theater systems with built-in Fire TV functions. These gadgets can then serve as your central entertainment hub.
On the other hand, with the rumored Alexa-enabled in-car gadget, wouldn't it be cool if, aside from its usual functions -- like playing music and looking up answers -- it has built-in GPS and you simply tell Alexa where to go? It'll be nice to hear Alexa doing turn-by-turn directions. How about Alexa serving as your audible tour guide while you drive? Now, that's something I could see happening.
Now with this assortment of gadgets pegged to roll out soon, will these be under the Echo umbrella or will they be renamed something else together? I hope Amazon doesn't stick with their house brand, though. I'm not sure I would like the AmazonBasics branding on my fancy appliances at all.
Will this be Amazon's new market space?
Although other companies have already embedded Alexa in similar appliances, this is Amazon's first attempt at moving into the home appliance market.
This will put the company in direct competition with some of their partners, like Sonos with its Alexa-powered home theater systems, GE with its Alexa-controlled microwave or Garmin with its Alexa-enabled dash cam. With all these partnerships in place, it will be interesting how Amazon's smart home appliances will disrupt the market.
And why not? With "tens of millions" of Alexa-enabled gadgets out there, you can't blame Amazon if it wants to tighten its chokehold on the smart assistant industry.
After moving into other consumer markets like retail health outlets and online pharmacies, will household appliances be Amazon's next big conquest? We can only wait and see.
Apple just discontinued a bunch of products - Is yours on the chopping block?
It's always exciting when gadgets are updated with shinier, more advanced features. However, if you are still using older Apple products, a bunch of them just got discontinued on Wednesday. It's the tech world's version of the circle of life. Click here and find out if your Apple gadget is on its way out.