As Amazon prepares for its Australian launch, in the U.S. the smart speaker, the Amazon ‘Echo,’ has received an important upgrade.
Where the original Echo could follow orders, tell you what the weather was doing outside and interact with other smart products, the new Echo Show takes this to the next level. With a built-in screen, the new hub of Amazon’s smart homes will enable users to make instant video calls, look up recipes and reviews, access long-term forecasts, review emails, and…well anything else that happens on a screen.
Admittedly, this isn’t revolutionary technology, and the new Show has already been mocked as unnecessary. But this next stage in the journey towards a complete smart home, is a necessary one. The limitations of smart speakers are obvious – the voice of your virtual assistant is only useful for simple requests. “Turn the lights on,” “activate the air-conditioning,” and “turn on the heater,” made us all feel like we were on Star Trek, but realistically served to do little more than be clever. By adding video, Amazon has increased the potential conversation between the speaker and its user. Now, requests can be multilayered.
“Find me the best recipe for pancakes.”
The recipe appears on screen, the user checks it, is happy and can move on to the next stage of the conversation.
“Order everything in this recipe apart from flour.”
The order is placed and presented on screen for approval.
Shortly thereafter the ingredients are in the user’s kitchen and pancakes are being made off the original recipe, using the screen.
“How much sugar do I put in?”
The conversation continues, and suddenly the smart speaker is more than something novel – it’s genuinely a timesaver, useful and interactive.
This also has potential to cross over into industries such as healthcare, mechanical, and any other industry that has a high technical requirement. The speaker will be able to bring up complex diagnostics, create interactions with various specialists, or place orders for parts or equipment, presenting approval to a senior manager on their screen, instantly.
The Amazon Show isn’t likely to be remembered as a revolutionary product, but it will play a crucial part in the evolution of a smart home, and a smart world.