Amazon’s latest hardware conference shows the leaps and bounds of how far they are pushing the technological limits.
Amazon always showcases everything we need in our current times.
This year’s event was hosted virtually and by invite-only, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone expects to hear about updates to the Fire Stick and Fire Stick TV, new Ring security devices and a potential update to the Echo speakers lineup. Let’s just say, the future is finally here.
The focus this year was on what the Senior Vice President, Devices & Services, Dave Limp, announced as “Ambient Intelligence” as it works with sustainability. Essentially, Amazon wants to continue making devices that are there when you need them, but aren’t taking up space or intrusive when you don’t need them.
Here’s a rundown of what was announced at the event:
Amazon Smart Thermostat ($59.99)
It’s a new and improved smart thermostat that connects to an Alexa-enabled device and can monitor and control your HVAC system in your home. Also, it’s backed by experts from Resideo, the experts behind Honeywell’s smart thermostats. The idea is to be able to efficiently heat and cool your home for when you’re in the house or not to save energy and utility costs when possible.
Echo Show 15 ($249.99)
The Echo Show 15 is a wall-mounted device with a 15.6 inch 1080p Full HD display that acts like a picture frame you can install like a portrait or landscape. The device uses Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Edge processor, which boasts faster speeds from its AZ1 ancestor. Ideally, it’s meant to act as an alternative to leaving sticky notes and calendars on your fridge. This condenses the clutter, cuts down on paper usage while keeping the household organized. It has its own calendar and notes section for all family members to add to. The “Smart Home” widget is great to see all the connected devices in the home; you can even view the video feed from a Ring Door device. Another great feature is it can act as a secondary TV or can even be used as a picture frame as it scrolls through a slideshow of family pictures.
Hey, Disney is part of the collaboration with Disney, which will act as a new voice assistant on all Echo devices. This addition will not be made available immediately, but is expected to drop early 2022. It’s meant to easily navigate and find Disney-related content faster when you ask Alexa. It’s also great if you enjoy visiting Disney Parks, which will have Hey, Disney offered with Alexa’s voice capabilities in the Disney Resort hotel rooms. Essentially, it’s a great enhancement for Disney’s hospitality for customers as they can ask it to help with certain services.
Amazon Glow ($249.99 Early Access | $299.99 MSRP)
With the pandemic here and for future purposes, Amazon Glow is here to help make interactions with kids and video calling more meaningful. The device has an 8-inch visual display and a 19-inch touch-sensitive mat that captures the projections of shared activities with the loved one they are on a call with, like reading an e-book or playing a game together. The device boasts being very durable as kids are known to get very physical with devices. Many of the games and activities are made from the partnership with Sesame Street Workshop, Nickelodeon, Mattel and Disney. Overall, kids and remote loved ones are able to do more together while they’re apart.
Amazon Halo | Halo View ($79.99)
Amazon Halo gets some major updates bringing Halo View, a health tracking device with an AMOLED screen; Halo Fitness, a new service with workout videos led by professional fitness trainers; and Halo Nutrition is another service which helps track and balance users’ eating habits. The Halo View has a battery life of up to 7 days and is able to be charged in less than 2 hours. On top of the cost of the health tracker, customers can purchase the two new services for $79.99/year. Staying healthy and being more conscience of my food intake is always on my to-do list, but hopefully this will be a great, streamlined way to do so.
Ring Always Home Cam
There was more footage of the flying drone in action again this year, but no new updates on cost as yet. Its features are said to be linked with Alexa and other security devices.
Ring Alarm Pro ($249.99 or $20/month, depending on location) | Ring Job Site Security ($399.99)
Ring Alarm Pro offers an improved all-in one home security device that helps keep your house safe from intruders, fires or weather damages. The partnership with eero allows for faster connectivity with Wi-Fi 6 routers. The biggest improvement is the Ring Edge option, which provides the ability to store up to 47 hours (64GB) of Ring video footage. There is a subscription plan for more features call Ring Protect Pro which essentially provides backup internet with 3GB of data in case of a power outage.
As for the Ring Job Site Security, Amazon Partnered with Home Depot to help keep tools and the construction site safe with a secure toolbox and video surveillance offered similarly with the Ring Alarm Pro.
Ring Virtual Security Guard (Early Access Free, then $99.99/month)
Ring Virtual Security Guard offers a service with Rapid Response to allow virtual professional access to your home security video feeds and help secure your house when you’re away either on a short trip or a vacation. Just so it’s not too creepy when you’re in your home, the user sets when virtual monitoring is active.
blink Video Doorbell ($49.99) | blink Floodlight Camera ($139.98) | blink Solar Power Mount + Camera ($129.98 Bundle)
Amazon and blink are partnering up to add to the home security features with the new blink Video Doorbell. It’s meant to have a battery life of two years, 1080p HD day and night video, two-way audio and alert notifications that will notify its users when setup. The floodlight camera and the solar power mount camera is a great addition for all-around security as it offers similar video security as the video doorbell.
Alexa Together (Free for 6 Months, then $19.99/month)
Alexa Together offers a new virtual caregiving service that works alongside Alexa devices. It provides 24/7 security for the person being monitored (ie. an elderly relative), so any slip-and-fall accidents will send an alert to the person/people taking care of the person being monitored. It’s not only great for emergencies, but for tech issues the person may need help with from another relative or friend. With the Remote Assistance app, the caregiver can provide virtual help with live video and the option to troubleshoot the issue through the app.
Amazon Astro ($999.99 for Day One Edition | $1,449.99 Regular)
The biggest news from the event was the announcement of the first home robot to market. It’s essentially meant to assist and monitor the user’s home for any anomalies. It’s quite compact and small, almost comparable in size and design to Disney’s Wall-E character.
It can move up to 1-metre/second and has a built-in periscope so it can see in hard to reach places in the house (ie. on top of the kitchen counter). It’s using navigation and mapping technology, on top of learning the user(s)’ habits to indicate its path. Users can also limit Astro’s access to certain areas of the house if they wanted to. It uses the same voice commands as Alexa, so if you tell it to crack a joke, it will do so with pleasure.
One of its key uses can also be as a monitoring entity that can secure the house when you’re away or check-up on those who require caregiving. Astro is able to assess the situation and call for help if need be. It sounds scary at first, but Astro looks like it’s here to help us when we need it.
This sums up the Amazon Fall 2021 hardware event and go signup to buy your own personal robot now!