Amazon is marketing the Echo as a 'smart speaker,' but it has the potential to do so much more.
Amazon is not your typical tech company. And as such, their innovations and products are not like those of other tech companies. While their cellphones and other gadgets failed to capture the eyes of the market, Amazon has a few tricks up their sleeve that places them in a completely different realm from similar-sized competitors.
According to a report from the New York Times, Amazon’s Echo speaker, which was released earlier this year with little fanfare, could be the next big device to take the world by storm. Echo, a screenless, voice-activated computer has changed from a fun experiment to something that could change the very way we interact with technology.
Echo was originally intended to take over some of the tasks a smartphone is perfectly capable of – playing music, reading news and weather, and even keeping track of to-do lists. The most interesting aspect of Echo is its voice assistant, Alexa, who is capable of so much more than simply entertaining users.
Amazon has found a way for a product to enable people to take greater control over the goods and services they consume. For instance, you can have Alexa call an Uber, reorder household supplies and snacks, and manage grocery lists.
Alexa’s voice recognition capabilities have come a long way since Echo’s release as well. According to Dave Limp, Amazon’s senor vice president of devices, the advances in microphone technology made in recent years have allowed Alexa to decipher between a command and loud background noise, making it extremely reliable.
“Early on in the product, to play music took eight or nine seconds, and it’s just unusable when it’s like that,” said Limp. “Now it’s often 1,000 milliseconds or 1,200 milliseconds.” Alexa’s breakneck response time will remind users of the Siri they always wished they had – one that can actually help out with real tasks too.
And that’s just the beginning – Amazon has also unveiled two new Alexa-powered devices including Amazon Tap and Echo Dot. A press release describing the new products can be found here.