Amazon has recently revealed a litany of product updates that all connect to its conglomeration of web services, reinforcing how much the brand wishes to be at the core of consumer lives and homes.
In just under a year since the company was criticized for its handling of home security, Amazon has put even more effort into “Astro,” a canine robot intended to patrol a property when its owners are away. The company also introduced a sleep-tracking device an updated Fire TV that can sense when someone is in the room.
All of these updates, first mentioned at an invite-only press conference, came one week after Amazon introduced a quartet of new Fire HD 8 tablets which seem to be intended as a way of hyping up merchandise as the holiday shopping season nears.
Amazon is doing its job, like any other tech firm, and trying to convince people to invest in new tech amid growing concerns of a global recession. Conversely, the company must also acknowledge the shifting level of investment and respect over just how entrenched their tech products are in observing and recording their consumer base.
Just last month, Amazon purchased “iRobot,” the Roomba company for $1.7 billion, and many eyebrows were raised. The FTC is investigating the deal after an excess of two dozen different groups contacted the federal agency with concerns about Amazon’s ability to further strangle digital commerce. While Amazon failed to mention Roomba during the press event, it remains invested in infiltrating as many homes as possible.
Here is a Breakdown Of All That Was Announced
Astro, the 20-pound robotic guard dog with a cup holder, will be receiving an update that brings it up to par with Alexa; voice- and face-recognition, cameras, AI, and mapping technology all come bundled into this mobile machine that can quickly move between rooms, capturing live footage and learning about its user habits. Some planned upgrades will include sensing the presence of pets within the house and taking short clips of their activities when alone in the house. Other planned additions include detecting if windows and doors are opened to supplement awareness of whether a stove is active.
Amazon is also allowing developers to custom-build software and commands for Astro. Furthermore, Astro will collaborate with a subscription to Ring to handle security services for small and mid-sized businesses. Amazon reiterated that Astro was created with a focus on security and privacy with all data being processed within Astro and users are free to declare certain rooms as off-limits to the robot.
Additional liability questions could be raised down the road with the advancements in robotic pets. With various product liability statutes in different states as well as dog bite laws, courts might have to reassess where lines are drawn.
Astro can be purchased for $999 and the purchase includes six months of “Ring Protect Pro.” The price is planned to jump to $1,499 down the line.
Also unveiled was a series of “Fire TV Omni” QLED models, being billed as the first Fire TV coming with “Dolby Vision IQ.” These are 4K televisions that can sense when bodies are in the room, allowing them to power off when they aren’t needed. Much like Samsung’s Frame TVs, these also include a gallery of 1,500 pictures for displaying when unused. The integration with Alexa via built-in microphones means that the device is fully controllable with voice commands. Users have the choice of a 65-inch or 75-inch model.
Also relevant to this section would be the Alexa Voice Remote Pro whose new main feature is an easier means of locating it when lost.
Halo Rise is a wellness device that monitors a nearby person’s sleeping and breathing patterns, as well as the humidity and illumination of the area. It also uses light instead of an alarm noise to wake people. This device works through a combination of sensory data and machine learning and functions regardless of the user’s orientation or level of cover.
Amazon offers the Halo Rise as a sleep-tracking option free of battery issues or being worn. The device’s pricing includes six months of membership in Halo’s workouts and health-tracking tools.
Fifteen years after the Kindle debuted, Amazon is now offering a superior model that can also be written into. Coming in at a 10.2-inch display and accompanied by a Kindle pen, Kindle Scribe users can jot whatever they like into the device. Amazon declared a partnership with Microsoft for software support with the device for early next year. This new Kindle also includes USB-C charging and a multi-month battery. Pricing starts at $399 for a pen and 16 GB of internal storage or $369 for a premium pen and doubles the internal storage.
New Echo Speakers
Amazon’s newest Echo Dot speakers offer double the bass, better processors, and can extend Wi-Fi for Eero. This rollout includes a software update to Echo Studio for better spatial audio and sound quality. Amazon is also retrying getting Alexa into cars with its Echo Auto, a product intended for users to send messages hands-free, listen to audio, navigate and shift from the car to other devices upon reaching a destination.
Echo Show 15
Amazon Show 15 is getting several software updates. These updates will take the form of free Fire TV, greater personalization to Alexa, weather alerts, recording video messages to display on Echo Show or Alexa, programming lighting for up to a day into the future, and even knowing when a “Whole Foods Market” pickup order is ready.
The Echo Show will also receive an interactive storytelling feature so kids can create an animated story narrated by Alexa out of several themes and character suggestions.
Continuing Automation Advancement
Amazon’s greater push for integrated smart homes and its interest in becoming the leader of that field overlaps with the increasing push for automation throughout. Driverless cars continue to be tested within the United States, to variable success, and companies are continually investing in robotics as a more cost-efficient means of production over humans. Rather than foreseeing this as apocalyptic, we should consider this freedom from manual labor as a push toward self-actualization and legislation for basic income.
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