Amazon USA has today unveiled a brand new product called “Echo”, a $199 connected speaker that’s always-on and listening for commands like Siri, which it can then respond to with information or by triggering a task. Amazon says that its black, cylindrical speaker is always connected to the cloud and will provide information, music, news, weather, and more. For a limited time, the company will offer Echo for $99 to Prime members who receive an invite.
According to Amazon, the Echo’s built-in voice recognition can hear users from across the room. It begins working as soon as it hears the wake word, “Alexa”. Tucked under Echo’s light ring is an array of seven microphones. These sensors use beam-forming technology to hear you from any direction. Its dual downward-firing speakers produce 360° omni-directional audio to fill the room with immersive sound. Echo provides hands-free voice control for Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.
“Echo’s brain is in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.
Echo is Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream your favorite music services like Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora from your phone or tablet. Also, it doesn’t stop working when you’re away from home. With the free companion app on Fire OS and Android, plus desktop and iOS browsers, you can easily manage your alarms, music, shopping lists, and more.”
While Siri, Google Now, and Cortana can all accomplish similar tasks on your smartphone, Amazon surely seems to think there’s a place in the living room for something like this. Check out this hilarious promo video to find out how Echo works: