Amazon isn’t afraid to try out different devices, just look at the Fire phone, and now the online retail giant has introduced a Bluetooth speaker system with Sir-like features.
Amazon is calling it the Echo, and it’s a small tower that’s designed to always be connected, and therefore always willing to help you with relatively simple tasks. Much like Siri, or many other digital personal assistants out there, Echo is activated by a keyword, which is “Alexa” in this case. Once the owner of Echo says the key word, the user can then ask a question, like, “What’s the weather going to be like today,” or tell Echo to set up a reminder to pick up groceries at some point later in the day.
Echo is a small tower, but it has quite a few noteworthy features. At the top of the device is a light ring, and under that ring are seven separate microphones. Amazon call this “Far-Field Voice Recognition,” and thanks to beam-forming technology are able to hear the user from anywhere within earshot, and from any direction. The Echo also features noise cancellation, which means even as the speaker system is playing music, it will still be able to hear voice queries.
Amazon’s Echo is also always connected to Amazon’s cloud services, which means the retail giant will be able to add features down the road with ease, and that the device is always learning. It will eventually pick up specific personal preferences from the user, speech patterns and vocabulary the more it gets used.
The speaker system is equipped with Bluetooth so the user can stream music from apps like Spotify, while the Echo also natively supports music playback from Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and others.
The Echo is currently an invite-only device right now, and once an interested party lands on the announcement page, they can request an invite from Amazon which should arrive “in the coming weeks.” Once the invite arrives, Amazon Prime subscribers will pay $99 for the device, while non-Prime members will have to fork over $199. You can check out the promotional video below.