Amazon Echo is the virtual assistant for your home, likely to lead to 'no-touch' ordering

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,318   +120
Staff member

Amazon has unveiled what can only be described as a peculiar product – a connected speaker for your home with a built-in virtual assistant that’s always listening and ready to help out in any way it can. If there’s one thing we can say about Amazon’s hardware division, it’s that they aren’t afraid of taking risks.

It's called Amazon Echo and the hardware itself is rather boring – it’s just an unassuming black tube that looks more like an air purifier or humidifier than a speaker. Inside is a 360-degree-firing speaker (a 2.5-inch woofer and a 2-inch tweeter, to be exact) that can play music from your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or online from Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio.

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The cylindrical gadget features seven microphones that use far-field technology so it can hear you from anywhere in the room. You can use voice commands to pull off all sorts of tasks. In addition to music playback, Echo can get the news, answer general knowledge questions, create to-do lists, set timers, set alarms, tell jokes and more. You can even access it from anywhere via a companion app.

While it’s always listening, it only wakes up when you say the “wake word” you’ve chosen.

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While there’s no shortage of virtual assistants today (Siri, Cortana and Google Now immediately come to mind), the problem is that they’re trapped inside your smartphone or tablet. A product like Echo seems to make better use of such technology although I suspect Amazon will ultimately end up pushing it as a voice assistant to help you order products from its site. You've heard of one-click ordering; well, Echo would enable no-click ordering. Just tell it what you want and it'll be on the way. But of course, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Amazon Echo retails for $199 although Prime members can shave $100 off the top. The only catch is this is an invite-only product – you request an invitation to purchase Echo and if you’re selected, Amazon will send you an e-mail in a few weeks with details on how to order.

What do you think about Amazon Echo? Intriguing or outright silly?

Lead image via CNET

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TomSEA

Posts: 3,246   +1,869
Goofy. What happens if you're engaged in a conversation with someone else and it picks up portions of your chatter and starts kicking in it's own interpretations of what it thinks you want to hear?
 

JohnCB

Posts: 118   +62
I understand what they're going for, but honestly I can't help but feel like I've got more than enough devices spying on me. The last thing I need is yet another that is monitoring every single conversation and has the ability to the spend my money.
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,066   +4,866
Amazon should make this available as a suppository, and give it away free with a "Prime" membership.

One click ordering? Anybody can do that.

One voice command ordering? Anybody could do that also.

But one puff of flatulence ordering? That's what I'm talking about...(y)

Although, one can of baked beans and some broccoli, could putt you into the poorhouse... :D :embarrased:
 
G

Guest

The whole way they choose to show it off speaks for itself
they are showing it used by a family and everyone having fun and getting to know it and getting to live with it and love it

if they would promote it like any other device with cold facts it would just sound so wrong

"put it in your home it listens to everything you say and communicates with the cloud sending all your information to be analysed"
 
You can bet the farm they are spying on everything you say and do with that device. we have a PC,Phone,tablets, Want to order a pizza use the phone or PC or tablet. Want to search something? ditto why allow them to invade your privacy by listen to ALL of your conversations and if you say not your very wrong.
 

JohnCB

Posts: 118   +62
we have a PC,Phone,tablets, Want to order a pizza use the phone or PC or tablet. Want to search something? ditto why allow them to invade your privacy by listen to ALL of your conversations and if you say not your very wrong.
That's the thing.... I think this is the next logical step in digitizing our lives. However with the amount of spying, tracking and security scandals we've had over the last couple years, the timing is all wrong.

This product requires a lot of trust, and we're at an age where trust is a scarce commodity.
 
G

Guest

The video does state that you have to wake it up with a special word before the listening theoretically starts. Of course that still requires trust.
 

amstech

Posts: 2,643   +1,801
This thing will take off and be successful, mark my words.

You can bet the farm they are spying on everything you say and do with that device. we have a PC,Phone,tablets, Want to order a pizza use the phone or PC or tablet. Want to search something? ditto why allow them to invade your privacy by listen to ALL of your conversations and if you say not your very wrong.
If they want to know when I order Pizza that's fine.
People are aware of what they say/do now and act accordingly.
Who cares if your being spied on if your aware and you keep you other 'private hobbies & things' private.
Anything I don't want uncle sam to know, he isn't going to know and I certainly won't be spouting it into this device.
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,066   +4,866
That's the thing.... I think this is the next logical step in digitizing our lives. However with the amount of spying, tracking and security scandals we've had over the last couple years, the timing is all wrong.

This product requires a lot of trust, and we're at an age where trust is a scarce commodity.
This is another piece of crap designed, perhaps destined, to part fools with their money.

And what you call, "digitizing our lives", I call, "turning us all into "digiots". Or perhaps, "digibeciles". Which ever terms flow best for ya.