No doubt Amazon’s Alexa was a show stopper at CES 2017. Just to give you a brief background of it, this intelligent personal assistant from Amazon was developed by Lab126 in 2014 and it has grown in popularity on numerous fronts.
Alexa is able to perform various real time tasks like streaming audio or video and providing weather and traffic updates in addition to playing music, podcasts and audiobooks just by following your vocal instructions. Although Amazon didn’t show up at CES 2017, the voice assistant to their Echo speaker did.
Alexa-Enabled Units at CES 2017
Alexa has been paired up with gadgets from other companies and the results are phenomenal. In fact, since its release alongside Echo, companies like LG and Lenovo among others have sought to integrate it into their products.
Huawei is also getting an Alexa app on its Mate 9 smartphone while Ford and Volkswagen are set to feature it in their cars. All these developments took place over CES 2017. But these are not the only ones. A few other products that are set to feature Alexa include:
Mattle Aristotle – Almost similar to Echo but packed with features designed to assist parents take care of their newborns.
Westinghouse, Seiki & Element are all set to build a TV with a remote featuring Alexa voice control.
GE’s LED ring lamp.
Omaker’s portable speaker
Lynx from Ubtech Robotics
Hubble’s Hugo – An eyeball-like motorized camera
Alexa's ability to control smart home devices makes it ideal as a home automation hub. Its integrated devices are activated by a wake-word like Echo, Amazon or Alexa.
The beauty of Alexa lies in the freedom it gives from the smartphone. It allows total control of smart devices without using an app on the phone. Even though it has its own app for configuration purposes or for skills, Alexa can be accessed without interacting with the screen using Echo, Dot and Tap - the three Alexa devices on the market.
Alexa’s Best Features
Alexa’s best features include providing communication with services like Uber, online banking services and facilitating basic functions like locking garage doors or seeing who is at the door. It can as well control the temperature in the house, make phone calls, run a diagnostic on a car and even check bank accounts and stocks.
Amazon’s Alexa-Enabled Units
The three options for Alexa provided by amazon which were all created for various purposes. The Amazon Echo ideally offers the experience of music without additional speakers and is great for all rooms as it gives 360 degree dispersion. Unfortunately, the Echo can't be paired with another speaker for high end audio quality.
The Echo Dot is a mini version of the Echo. At only 1.5 inches in height, it functions the same as an Echo with the exception of needing speakers for better sound quality. It comes fitted with a speaker that is great for alarms and listening to Dot's voice but not for music.
The portable option is the Amazon Tap. Smaller than the Echo, it has rechargeable batteries as well as a charging base. Unlike the Echo and Dot, Tap doesn't have an always on microphone. It sports a button for the microphone. This was installed to save Tap's battery life.
To cap it all, companies do not pay a fee to integrate their products with Alexa using Alexa Voice Service (AVS). This is the intelligent cloud service that enhances voice enabled experiences to connected devices. Overall, it makes consumers optimistic of the future cutting edge collaborations in the horizon.
All Amazon Alexa-enabled units are currently available for consumers while the majority of those that launched at CES 2017 will be available in the second quarter of 2017.