Friday , October 22 2021

Amazon launches $1000 voice-controlled robot

Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc unveiled a home robot called Astro, a screen on wheels that works with the company’s Alexa voice software.
The $1,000 bot, which Bloomberg first reported was in development in 2018, was shown at an Amazon event checking on pets while a user was away and following a child through the home during a video call.
The device’s screen, which by default displays a pair of circles to imitate eyes, is capable of travelling about a meter per second. It includes a periscope to expand the camera’s field of view.
“Customers don’t just want Alexa on wheels,” said Dave Limp, Amazon devices and services chief. “We’ve embodied it with a unique persona that’s all its own.”
Limp said the robot is part of an Amazon program that makes devices still under development available. Astro will be sold on an invitation-only basis later this year.
A smart thermostat in partnership with Honeywell International Inc. The $60 device, which will sell for as little as $10 with rebates, is a potential competitor to Alphabet Inc.’s Google Nest.
An Echo device with a wall-mounted 15-inch screen that can stream Prime Video and Netflix, display the calendars and comes with a custom-built chip to help process the voice commands.
A tie-up with the Walt Disney Co to put Echo devices in the company’s theme parks and hotels. Expected next year, they’ll be equipped with new software, called Hey, Disney!, built on the technology behind Amazon’s Alexa. That will enable visitors to interact with Disney characters and summon Alexa for other tasks.
A new version of its fitness tracker, called Halo View, that incorporates a small screen for the first time. It will cost $80, Amazon says. A new service, called Halo Fitness, targets major users of wrist-worn devices.
Glow, a device that combines an 8-inch screen for video chatting with a projector that displays images on an adjacent 19-inch “touch-sensitive” projection area. The pitch is for kids to connect with loved ones by doing puzzles or drawing together. Available to begin with on an invite-only basis, the device costs $250.
The Seattle-based company, which flopped in its attempt to launch a smartphone line, has nevertheless built a massive consumer electronics business around its voice-controlled Echo smart speakers and accompanying Alexa software. Other hot sellers include Fire TV streaming sticks and home security equipment from Ring, the Southern California smart doorbell maker Amazon acquired in 2018. Amazon has held new product unveilings in each of the last several years, an effort to position itself at the center of the burgeoning market for smart-home gadgets.
Amazon’s devices unit has been a frequent target of criticism, from privacy advocates who question the wisdom of always-on microphones in the home, and civil liberties groups alarmed by Ring’s partnerships with police departments and security practices. Those doubts haven’t derailed Amazon’s sales.
Meanwhile, the company has worked to burnish its privacy credentials, offering Alexa users more granular options to delete voice recordings captured by Amazon devices, encrypting videos picked up by Ring, and asking police departments to publicly request footage they want for investigations.
Amazon earlier this month announced its first line of televisions, as well as an update to its Kindle e-reader line. Bloomberg News reported last week that Amazon was working on a larger Echo with a wall-mountable screen, a TV sound bar, and more advanced smart-speaker technology for use in cars. The company has also considered develping an Alexa-powered wearable device for children.

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