October 1, 2021
During its streamed media event this week, Amazon introduced new devices including a wheeled robot named Astro and a sale-by-invitation-only Ring autonomous security drone for the home. While the unusual products added sizzle, the focus was largely on basics like its first smart thermostat, updates to the Echo speaker line and Ring security products. Several of the new products appear to target market share of products already on offer, including through Amazon, and many emphasize synergy among Amazon’s hardware brands. The company’s fee-based premium services were also emphasized.
“Astro (below) is a new and different kind of robot, one that’s designed to help customers with a range of tasks like home monitoring and keeping in touch with family,” writes Charlie Tritschler, VP of products at Amazon. “It brings together new advancements in artificial intelligence, computer vision, sensor technology, and voice and edge computing in a package that’s designed to be helpful and convenient.”
Astro will be available in limited quantities later this year for $1,449.99 — or $999.99 with a six-month trial of the Ring Protect Pro subscription.
A Ring Alarm Pro that joins the security system with Amazon’s Eero Wi-Fi router and an Amazon Smart Thermostat produced in partnership with Honeywell Home are two new products. The thermostat, which competes with Google’s Nest line, responds to Alexa and auto-adjusts temperatures based on when you’re home or away.
The new Echo Show 15, a 15.6-inch smart frame, can be wall-mounted or placed on a stand to display a family calendar, virtual sticky notes or streaming content. It will sell for $249.99 later this year.
An optional feature, Visual ID, can upon recognizing a user offer personalized content like recent music. You can also now teach Alexa to get smarter by requesting recognition of certain things, like the sound of a left-open fridge’s beeping. A new Halo View fitness band wearable featuring a built-in display, retails for $79.99.
The Wall Street Journal points out it “doesn’t include the onboard microphone that its screenless predecessor had, which was intended to analyze the user’s emotions.” Amazon’s Halo membership has added an option for studio workouts and meal-planning for $3.99 a month after the first year when you purchase a band.
The Amazon Glow projector lets users play, draw and read together from different physical locations. The L-shaped gadget has a an 8-inch tall display, topped by a projector that can cast an interactive, touch-sensitive space on a 19-inch mat.
“The idea is that video calling isn’t fun enough for young kids. To keep kids engaged on calls — and in life — you need to do stuff with them,” WSJ writes. Connectivity is achieved through a Glow app on iOS, Android or Kindle Fire. The $249.99 Amazon Glow will be sold via invitation.
CNBC, which offers a full product listing announced at the event, notes that Amazon is partnering with The Walt Disney Company on a “Hey Disney” voice assistant that works alongside Alexa and integrates Disney characters, according to Amazon senior vice president David Limp. “Amazon Echos equipped with Disney content will also be placed inside Disney resort hotel rooms,” explains the article.
Amazon’s Race to Create the Disappearing Computer, The Verge, 9/28/21
Leaked Documents Show How Amazon’s Astro Robot Tracks Everything You Do, Vice, 9/28/21
Disney Unveils MagicBand+ Wearable, ‘Hey Disney!’ Voice Assistant, WESH, 9/30/21