Key Announcements Made At Amazon’s Fall Hardware Event

The product can automatically sense situations and regulate temperature accordingly and works on commands like "Goodnight" to regulate the temperature.

Amazon hosted the 2021 edition of its annual fall hardware event on Tuesday. While the company didn’t stream the proceedings to the public, we have the scoop for you. The heap of announcements for new products included a WALL-E like a new autonomous robot, a smart thermostat, flying security cameras and more. 

Here’s a quick summary of all the products and services that Amazon announced today.

Astro

Astro is Amazon’s Alexa-powered robot that can move around your home, like Alexa on wheels. It is Amazon’s Wall-E – like a robo-pet combining AI, computer vision, Alexa, sensors, edge computing and ring technology with live feed support. 

Image : AMAZON

The robot provides home security, checks in on loved ones & pets, and offers Alexa functionality on the go. Additionally, the Astro can beatbox, navigate around the house without preset routes and rest on command. The robot is autonomous with the ability to see, hear, act and understand things itself.

Releasing later this year, Astro is an invite-only product starting at $999. Amazon also hinted at an Astro 2 that will come later and be even smarter.

Sign up for an invite here. 

Echo Show 15

The latest addition to the Echo family is a 15.6-inch 1080p display that can be mounted on the wall or a stand-in portrait or landscape mode and act as a bulletin board for the family. 

The smart display essentially showcases Alexa widgets for calendars, to-do lists, shopping lists, and more, that the device will adjust accordingly when it recognises the family member’s face. The device will sync widgets like sticky notes from each family member and show them all in one spot. The other widget projects a live camera feed in a PiP (picture in picture) view. 

Amazon Echo Show 15

Image Credits: Amazon

Additionally, the device supports full HD video streaming and can stream news, movies, and more. Powered by Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Edge processor, the device can be trained by the user to recognise specific sounds, like noticing the fridge’s alert if it’s been left open or the doorbell; and the device will send a notification to the user’s phone on picking up the noise. 

Read more here

Halo

Amazon also introduced its new Halo View fitness band. An AMOLED colour display has been added to its previous Halo wearable to reduce the device’s price. The band can track your heart rate, skin temperature, steps, among other things, but it does not come with Amazon’s controversial tone detecting microphone. The band also features Halo Fitness workout plans and Halo Nutrition’s personalised meal planner (the Halo membership). 

Read more here

Amazon Halo View

Credits:: AMAZON

The event also included new security devices from Ring and Blink to ‘make neighbourhoods safe’. Ring, the Amazon-owned security company, has announced a higher-end version of its home security system called Ring Alarm Pro. The system promises to guard both the home and the network security. The Ring Alarm Pro includes:

  • An Eero Mesh WiFi integration.
  • 24/7 internet backup.
  • Local processing and storage for Ring cameras.

Blink’s new video doorbell extends security to the front door with its 1080p video captures. It supports Alexa integration, wireless connections and storing the video on USB or on cloud. 

Read more here

Glow

Glow is Amazon’s teleconferencing display designed for kids. It comes with a projector that can create an 8-inch touch-sensitive playspace for various games and activities built in the device. Glow will cost $249.99 when it goes on sale in the next few weeks, but Amazon claimed it to be just an introductory price. The device is also portable; it can be placed anywhere and used on any flat surface. 

Additionally, Amazon Glow supports object scanning to turn pictures and toys into digital elements like stickers and jigsaw puzzles. Amazon is bringing more content to Glow with its partnership with Disney and Mattel.

Read more here.  

Amazon Smart Thermostat

Amazon’s smart thermostat works with Alexa to remain energy efficient. Given Amazon’s partnership with Honeywell Home, the thermostat is compatible with existing HVAC systems. The product can automatically sense situations and regulate temperature accordingly and works on commands like “Goodnight” to regulate the temperature. 

Amazon smart thermostat

Image Credits: AMAZON

Amazon has noted that the potential energy savings will help customers meet sustainability goals at an affordable cost of $60. 

Alexa Updates

Apart from the new hardware announcements, the event also included various updates for Alexa, including a voice assistant in collaboration with Disney that will be available on Echo devices and Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms. In addition, a new feature, Alexa Together, turns an Echo speaker or smart display into an emergency support device for your family members. The company is also adding offline voice support for Alexa devices.

Find a wrap up of all new products here

AI Advances 

Along with the hardware devices, Amazon also noticed the AI advancements that have happened behind the scenes to enable the robo-pet or the personalised widgets. Let’s breeze through them here: 

Custom Sound Event Detection

Alexa can recognise sounds like glass breaking, dog barking, and even snoring. In addition, the Custom Sound Event Detection enables each house member to teach Alexa to recognise distinct sounds in their home such as beeps and chimes from appliances, activity sounds such as a doorbell or garage door opening. This is to ensure personal sound recognition given the uniqueness of all homes.

Custom Event Alerts

Extending beyond sound recognition, Amazon’s AI can also understand the state of physical objects in the home and create customised alerts. For example, the personalised detectors on Ring cameras can be trained to alert the user about things like leaving the garage door open. 

Learning Personal Preferences

Lastly, Alexa can now detect new concepts in customer requests, such as “vacation mode” for thermostat settings, and learn their meaning by seeking more information from the customer. Alexa Conversation enables new dialogue management models so that Alexa can extract relevant information from interactions and remember the user’s explicit preferences.

Read more about Alexa’s features here

“Through advances in self-learning and self-service coupled with increased self-awareness of the ambient state, we are making our AI-powered services more natural, more useful, and more trustworthy for everyone,” Amazon stated

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Avi Gopani
Avi Gopani is a technology journalist that seeks to analyse industry trends and developments from an interdisciplinary perspective at Analytics India Magazine. Her articles chronicle cultural, political and social stories that are curated with a focus on the evolving technologies of artificial intelligence and data analytics.

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