Amazon has entered another new device into the smart home market. Called the Amazon Echo, it’s basically a cylindrical smart microphone allowing user voice command over a variety of connected apps.
Off the shelf, the device is compatible with Philips Hue lights and WeMo-enabled switches, and it has an artificial intelligence system that can answer basic user queries, similar to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. Reviewing the device in an article for TechCrunch, Darrell Etherington asserts that while it “doesn’t nail recognition or have anywhere near a 100 percent success rate,” Echo’s “weaknesses don’t really detract from its overall usefulness,” adding that its smart home functionality “really makes the case for the voice-powered home.”
Still, at its current price of $179.99, it isn’t clear that consumers – most of whom have invested little in smart home tech – will find it worth the cost to avoid getting up to adjust their lights, or pull out their smartphones for voice-based queries. But it is another step towards the realization of the fully-fledged smart home, in which voice command is likely to be a salient user interface. And given Amazon’s other recent forays into the smart home market, it seems fair to expect many more steps forward in this area, both from the company and its rivals.