Amazon unveils Siri-like digital assistant 'Echo' for your home
New Delhi: Amazon has unveiled Echo, a cylindrical-shaped speaker that can do a lot more than just play music.
Echo responds to voice commands and can do things like give you the news and weather, and order items from the online retailer, create to-do lists, set a timer, wake you up in the morning, and even tell you jokes.
Amazon's product page says, Echo is always on and connected to Wi-Fi, but it only hears you when you use a "wake word" that you choose when you first set it up.
So, for example, if you chose the wake word "Alexa," you could say "Alexa, what time is it?" or "How tall is Mount Everest?"
As a speaker, it offers hands-free voice control for Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. It's Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream music from services like Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora from your phone or tablet.
It measures 9.25 inches and has seven microphones. The gadget uses the so-called far-field voice-recognition technology, so it should be able to hear you from anywhere in the room.
The device runs on Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud-computing service. Over time, Echo can adjust to consumers' speech patterns and personal preferences, Amazon said.
Echo costs $199 and members of Amazon's Prime fast-shipping program can purchase the gadget for $99 for a limited period. Consumers need to request an invitation to get the product.
Echo expands the company's new hardware offerings this year, which include a smartphone and set-top box. Earlier, the company unveiled a media-streaming device, the Fire TV Stick, which plugs into a TV set to let users browse video and music from Netflix Inc., Pandora Media Inc. and other content services.
With Echo you can also easily order things from the Web retailer by adding it to their shopping lists via voice command and later confirming the purchase through a companion app.
Echo competes against the likes of connected speakers including Sonos Inc. and Jawbone. Jawbone offers connected streaming home speakers called Jambox, in a range of colors and sizes costing $130 to $300. Sonos has a product offering starting from $199.