How Echo Show will change way we live at home
WE LIVE in a world where everyone is always busy. We're rushing to complete errands, to get to work, to get home, to spend time with family.
Sometimes it can seem like too much, and people will relish at any opportunity to make their lives a little easier, especially when they are at home.
Well, there is a new gadget doing just that and it's taking over the world - the Amazon Alexa.
Alexa is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon in 2014. While your smartphone stays in your pocket and using nothing but your voice, you can play music, create to-do and shopping lists, get weather reports and news updates, as well as control smart home devices.
But today, Amazon has gone a step further and unveiled a number of new Alexa-inspired devices that will use voice technology to further change the way we live at home.
At an event in Seattle the ecommerce giant announced the new products were in line with the company's ambition to integrate the smart technology into everyday life.
The Echo Show is the most sophisticated device to become available in Australia and aims to make life easier at home.
The all-new Echo Show features a vibrant 10-inch HD display. The screen is complemented by dual, side-firing two neodymium drivers, a passive bass radiator and Dolby processing to deliver expansive sound.
With a built-in Zigbee smart home hub, Echo Show makes it simple to begin the process of transforming your property into a smart home.
Just say "Alexa, discover my devices," to automatically discover and set-up compatible light bulbs, plugs and switches without the need for additional hubs or apps. Once set up, ask Alexa to turn on the lights or use the touch-screen to turn devices on and off.
Director of Echo Products Linda Ranz works specifically on devices which feature a screen.
She said in terms of visuals the new Echo Show had come a long way since the original.
"We've tried to recognise and enhance the visual aspects of the product because what we discovered with the original is that people were watching a lot more short-form video. It might be entertainment for the kids or used for watching the news or sport," she said.
"I think this model will be really well received with people of all ages. I know parents with children use it to entertain their kids while cooking dinner.
"It's endearing for older customers too, who can video-call their children and grandchildren. Then of course, it appeals to everyone in between due to its music playing capability and its simple ability to make life easier."
Ms Ranz said the feature she found most convenient was being able to add to her shopping list at home, and then access that list from her smart phone at the grocery store.
Shopping made simple is a feature that many families will appreciate. Customers are able to make shopping lists simply by rattling off an number of items needed such as "Alexa, add milk, eggs and bread to my shopping list."
You can even stay on top of products by reordering products. You just say "Alexa, reorder my shampoo and conditioner" and it will help you reorder your favourite brand online.
It also has a list of recipes which you can follow step-by-step, just using voice activation. They appear in video format or the recipe will come up on the screen for you to follow.
Echo Show also has a built-in web browser that can be opened by saying, "Alexa, open Silk" or "Alexa, open Firefox."
Thousands of skills are available on the device as well.
Now you can do things like check your commute or watch the Fox Sports News live stream.
You can also find out when your energy bill is due from AGL and check your credit card due date with NAB.
With Alexa it's easy to create some family fun with skills from Kinderling and Amazon Storytime, or chill out with a selection of relaxation sounds.
The Echo Show also makes its easier to chat with family and friends, with its built-in 5MP camera that supports high-definition video calling and is great for hands-free calls to friends and family who have an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App.
The Echos are most well-known for their music playing capabilities and Ms Ranz said the incredible visuals on the Echo Show allowed her to connect to music in a way she hadn't done before.
"The Echos are all about music and what we found with the screen is you can watch music videos, sort through albums and connect with music in a different way," she said.
"When listening to music on a speaker it is a very digital experience, but now with the Echo Show it has become a more visual experience which is pretty incredible."
The writer attended the Seattle event as a guest of Amazon.