Amazon held an event this morning, and wow-oh-wow did they announce a lot. Smart thermostats! Flying security cameras! Robot companions!
Didn’t tune in or have time to catch it all? Here’s a recap of the biggest news:
Amazon is building a thermostat, partnering with Honeywell spinoff co. Resideo to get it done. It’ll be Alexa-compatible, of course, allowing you to say things like “Alexa, turn off the AC.” At just $60 (about half the cost of the cheapest Nest), they’re definitely aiming to undercut the market here.
Echo Show 15
A wall-mountable Echo Show that looks like a framed picture, meant to sort of just blend into the room while providing one-tap access to things like reminders, calendars and security camera views. Works in portrait or landscape made. It’ll cost $250
Custom Sound Detection
You’ll now be able to teach Alexa to recognize new sounds and perform actions when it hears them. The example given was teaching Alexa to recognize the beeping sound your fridge makes when it’s left open and send you a notification.
Amazon’s voice assistant tech is coming to “tens of thousands” of Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms, allowing guests to say “Hey Disney” and ask about things like when the park opens, when the next shuttle will arrive or request towels. Because if there’s one thing people love in their hotel rooms, it’s microphones. Right? Anyone?
Leaning hard into the “video calling with the grandparents” part of the pandemic, Amazon is building an interactive tablet/projector thing for kids and families. The 8″ screen connects the kid with a remote family member, while a built-in projector beams a game onto the touch-sensitive surface in front of it. The family member on the other end of the video call can play along while they chat, interacting with the game via tablet. Amazon is working on games in partnership with Disney, Mattel and Nickelodeon. It’ll launch with an “early access price” of $250, with the price eventually increasing to $299.
Amazon dives deeper into the exercise/health space, this time launching a waterproof, $80 Fitbit-style wristband with a built-in display. It’ll also launch Halo Fitness, a collection of hundreds of streamable video workouts, and Halo Nutrition, which is meant to help with meal planning and grocery shopping.
The flying security camera
Remember that wild drone camera that Ring announced last year? The one that flies around your house to record footage while you’re away? They initially didn’t announce when it would actually be available (presumably because they wanted to wait until everyone got their Half-Life references out of the way,) but the company says it’s going up for purchase now on an invite-only basis.
Ring Virtual Security Guard
Ring will launch a subscription monitoring service for their doorbells and outdoor cameras; once you’ve given them access to a specific camera, Ring’s “Virtual Security Guard agents” can respond to alerts by tuning into the live feed, communicating with anyone they see, triggering the on-device siren, or calling emergency services.
Ring Jobsite Security
Ring is also building a special kit of hardware purpose-tuned for construction and contractor job sites; it can help do things like monitor if gates are open/closed, and comes in a fancy hard case for moving the system from site to site. And it’s all orange, because construction!
New Blink stuff
Amazon acquired Blink in 2017, then acquired another security camera maker with Ring in 2018. Rather than merging the two brands into one, Blink lives on as the generally more affordable line. This morning they announced a $50 smart doorbell with 1080p video and two years of battery life, a $40 floodlight mount for its existing outdoor camera, and a $50 solar panel mount.
Update note: We had some of the prices wrong here, they’re now fixed.
Amazon is making a robot that will roll around your house like a little Alexa-powered Wall-E. It’ll initially sell for $999 to “Day One” users, the price eventually increasing to $1,449. From house mapping to security capabilities, there’s a whole lot going on here, so you should probably check out Brian Heater’s deep dive here.