Meet Amazon Echo.
The company unveiled a cool little device today that is equal parts speaker and personal assistant. The Echo is a small voice-activated speaker, but it can do a lot more than just play music. The echo is basically like Siri or Cortana but it’s designed for the home and not your pocket.
Amazon writes: “Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It’s always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, ‘Alexa.’ It’s also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.”
The biggest selling point for the Echo seems to be something Amazon calls “Far-Field Voice Recognition.” Amazon claims that you’ll be able to speak to the echo (not scream at the echo) no matter where you are in the room.
Amazon writes: “Tucked under Echo’s light ring is an array of seven microphones. These sensors use beam-forming technology to hear you from any direction. With enhanced noise cancellation, Echo can hear you ask a question even while it’s playing music. ”
The device isn’t available for purchase just yet. If you want one, you’ll have to ask for an invitation from Amazon. The new device will cost $99 for Amazon Prime members and $199 for everyone else.
The Amazon Echo seems almost too good to be true, which is probably why Tech Crunch is a little skeptical about the new device. TC imagines a day when the Echo will stop being a personal assistant and start being an Amazon spokesman that is permanently in your home.
TC writes: “Amazon doesn’t want to be a destination anymore; they don’t want to be something you have to go to; they want to be ubiquitous. They want their store “front end” to be floating in the ether all around you, just waiting for you to open your mouth.”
It wouldn’t be too surprising for the Echo to make it easier to purchase from Amazon. Of course, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.