Amazon has a new gadget out that will speak and listen to you 24/7. It’s called the Echo, a cylindrical premium speaker that can fill up a room with great sound, but at the same time trigger certain commands through voice activation.
The Echo possesses a 360 degree firing speaker, and works through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. People can stream music off their own devices via Bluetooth, and Amazon and other cloud services using Wi-Fi.
Stacked on top of the speaker are 7 microphones that use beam-forming technology to pick up exactly what a person is saying from any location in a room. The Echo also has noise filtering technology enabled to ensure that the device is picking up exactly what the commands are.
The gadget is currently only available through an invitation—only basis, with Prime members getting the better deal of $99 versus $199 for non-members.
What is Amazon’s motive for developing this speaker? While it is unclear what the intentions are, we can only guess that the online retail giant is building a sort of funnel to increase sales through its Amazon portal. Since the Echo is connected to just about every audio services available, users can easily order anything that grab their interests during a commercial through the voice-activated system.
Amazon’s aspiration to take on the hardware business hasn’t cultivated the best of results in recent days. The company’s tablet and smartphone projects have all been subpar or flat out busts, and we’ll just have to see if the Echo is an alluring enough product to help turn things around for the retailer.