Here’s Looking at You, Alexa
Amazon has already given us ample speakers to choose from? What is your favorite so far?
Amazon is developing a premium version of its Alexa-powered Echo speaker, which will have a 7-inch touchscreen, in a bid to stave off competition from Google and other companies developing rival offerings, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
Designed for use in the kitchen, the new device would have an upward-tilting touchscreen that would permit a user to swipe controls from a standing position. Current plans call for it to hit the streets by the first quarter of 2017.
The development would mark an important moment for integrating artificial intelligence with automated home devices. Amazon has seen its line of Alexa digital assistant-based products take off, with the ability not only to stream music wirelessly and deliver news, stocks and traffic information, but also to manage more complicated and sensitive tasks, like controlling home security and automobile ignition, and adjusting everything from thermostats to the amount of light in the living room.
Amazon Echo and Google Home were among the most buzzed-about items on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Digital Insights spokesperson Melissa Chanslor.
In fact, Amazon on Tuesday reported a record-breaking Cyber Monday, with sales of the Echo family of devices up seven times compared with Cyber Monday 2015.
The company sold millions of Alexa-related devices over the Thanksgiving weekend, with the Echo Dot, the Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, the Fire tablet and the Amazon Echo ranking as the best-selling products from any manufacturer across the site, said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon devices and services.
Amazon sold more than 5.1 million Echo devices in the U.S. since the product was launched in 2014, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report released earlier this month. Approximately 2 million of the estimated 5.1 million devices sold in the first nine months of 2016 alone, with awareness of the device on the rise.
More than 40 percent of Echo users streamed music on the device, and one-third used it to ask Alexa questions, the report shows.