Hardware executives from the retailer giant hammered that spot over and over during Thursday, emphasizing the value of smart home features for those of us who are stuck at home. And they’ve doubled down on equipment and services to entertain us, help us connect and keep an eye on our homes.
“Nobody predicted the pandemic, and we certainly didn’t plan for it,” Dave Limp, Amazon’s chief hardware officer, said in an interview after the event. “But I think our homes are now our offices, they are our schools, they are our cinemas. Many of our products have become even more applicable in this environment.”
Of course, Amazon agrees with this development because it keeps people hooked on its portfolio of services and products. Limp said video streams have increased and billions of hours are watched each month via Amazon’s Fire TV devices. The same goes for reading books on Kindle gadgets and listening to music on Echo speakers. Add in all the things people buy online at Amazon.com and the quarantine has worked pretty well for the company.
Some may say that Alexa’s growing influence is a bad thing. It is troubling that one of the largest and richest companies on the planet has so many connections to our home life, giving it even more ability to collect a lot of data about us. There are a lot of security issues, like an Amazon brandbeing hijacked by a hacker – to make consumers think.
But there are also reasons to be grateful. These types of products won’t replace in-person visits to loved ones, but they certainly are useful for communicating when we need to be remote.
Ultimately, consumers will decide how much or how little Alexa they want in their life. If the story provides any clues, they will want much more, especially as the pandemic sparks interest in video conferencing, security systems and streaming services.
“The pandemic has brought it all to Amazon’s business model,” said Bret Kinsella, founder of voice technology site Voicebot.ai, of Amazon’s new devices. “If you look at our times and just look at responding to customer needs and interests, which is what Amazon focuses on first and foremost, I’d say they really got it right.”
Functions for life from home
Amazon is banking on this fact. At its event, the company introduced many new ideas that could work well during the altered reality that the pandemic has caused.
The company unveiled a new program called Care Hub, an Alexa feature that allows people to monitor their family members from afar. After you and a family member agree to set up a Care Hub connection, you will be able to monitor that person’s activity feed with Echo devices. If your family member doesn’t ask Alexa any questions by a certain time of day, you can get an alert. The family member can also set you up as an emergency contact and reach you by saying “Alexa, call for help.”
“We can all relate to the idea that there is a lot of family that we can’t see right now. Even if they were nearby, we wouldn’t be able to see them. They’re in that situation,” said Daniel Rausch, Vice President of Smart Home. Amazon. He said he’s testing the service now with his mom.
Alexa hardware director Miriam Daniel said her team wanted to help with remote learning, so she created Reading Sidekick. The feature, which works with hundreds of books, allows Alexa to read alongside children, encouraging them if they’re okay or offering support if they’re struggling.
Amazon has also worked to make its devices useful for video conferencing and communications by enabling video calls on TV via a Fire TV Cube device and a Logitech webcam. I $ 250The smart display provides a 10-inch screen for video calling and is equipped with Skype and group calls. Will have Zoom later this fall.
A new set ofthe devices should also help people get more reliable connections at home.
As the pandemic forced us to spend more time at home, Amazon’s Ring unit would certainly have gotten a prominent spot at the hardware event. Ring’s surveillance equipment and police partnerships are already a concern for privacy advocates. Their concerns are likely to be directed to the $ 250 Ring Always Home Cam, a self-containedflying inside your home to keep an eye on many rooms on a predetermined flight path. The device, which will be released next year, will also automatically fly somewhere in the house if triggered by suspicious movement.
This concept may be too much for many customers. But the $ 200it probably won’t. The Car Cam turns the script on Ring’s dealings with the police. The dash-mounted camera will record the traffic stop if you say “Alexa, they are stopping me”. That device could provide a valuable level of transparency at a time when police brutality and excessive force have become a major social concern. In June, introduced a similar feature on its iPhone.
Privacy advocates called Amazon to create a bevy of devices with built-in cameras and microphones. When asked about these concerns, Limp noted that his team has done a lot to make its products safer, including addingand stronger passwords for Ring.
“We will have to keep inventing on the privacy front and on the security front,” he said. “You’re never done.”
With the holiday season andcoming soon, Amazon will find out soon enough if customers agree with Limp’s sentiment. And they’ll decide how many of these new devices they want to quarantine into their lives.