'Alexa, cook my dinner and play some music'
Amazon is preparing to put Alexa in up to eight new devices before the end of the year, including sound equipment, appliances like a microwave oven, and a gadget for use in the car.
That is the claim of company insiders who are familiar with the retail giant's plans. Speaking anonymously to CNBC, the people claim at least eight new voice-controlled products will be launched by Amazon at an event planned for later this year.
Some of the products will offer Alexa support, the people said — like how a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner can be controlled by speaking to your Alexa smart speaker — and others will feature an embedded Alexa of their own, complete with microphone and speaker.
According to the report, the new Amazon products will include a microwave oven, an amplifier, a receiver, a subwoofer, and an "in-car gadget," among other unnamed items.
An amplifier and receiver with Alexa makes sense, given Amazon already produces the Echo smart speaker range but is yet to offer high-end audio products. By comparison, Google has the Home Max, Apple offers the HomePod, and traditional speaker companies like Bang & Olufsen, Harman Kardon, and Sonos are all invested in adding smart assistants to their high-end speakers.
A receiver, amplifier and subwoofer would see Amazon take a big step forward in its home audio/video offerings. Currently, it sells the Fire TV stick and Fire TV Cube, but with these new devices it could put Alexa into more high-end AV systems. We would like to see the ability to ask Alexa to change the input on a receiver, switching from the cable TV box to the games console with a voice command, for example.
GE already sells a microwave with Alexa support
Meanwhile, the claim of Amazon launching an Alexa-equipped microwave reminds us of the Smart Countertop Microwave Oven by GE, which launched in August and can be controlled by speaking to Amazon's virtual assistant. It seems unlikely that Amazon's oven would have its own Alexa (like how Echo speakers do), but an Alexa skill like the GE's makes sense.
So too does an in-car device, which we expect to be similar to the Roav Viva by Anker, an Alexa-enabled device which plugs into the lighter socket and has a microphone for communicating with the assistant. Roav Viva owners can ask Alexa to play music, make phone calls, and control the navigation of their smartphone while driving.
Car manufacturers are increasingly offering Alexa as an optional extra, so it makes sense for Amazon to offer a solution to owners of older vehicles without the option being offered from the factory.
According to the report, an internal Amazon document says the company is planning to announce these new Alexa devices at an event before the end of 2018.