Amazon unveils new Alexa-powered devices including eyeglass frames, earbuds and smart ring
Amazon on Wednesday unveiled a cornucopia of new gadgets as it extended the reach of Alexa from automobiles and homes essentially into people's heads.
Amazon digital aide Alexa vies with Google Assistant software to be at the heart of smart homes where lights, security systems, televisions and more are controlled with spoken commands.
While the Seattle-based technology titan has worked with partners to get Alexa built into some 85,000 devices, it also expanded the line-up of hardware it creates itself.
- Echo Frames -
Eyeglass frames with microphones built in to listen for commands and speakers that channel audio directly into the ears for just wearers to hear. The frames, which can be used for prescription lenses, have no camera or display capabilities and synch with smartphones.
Echo Frames are available invitation-only, and priced at $180.
- Echo Loop -
A ring worn on a finger that can be used to interact with Alexa digital assistant using taps or swipes. The smart ring is available by invitation only and priced at $130.
- Echo Buds -
Wireless earbuds infused with Alexa digital assistant smarts but which synch to smartphones, where they can work with Google Assistant or Apple Siri software. Echo Buds are priced at $130.
The Echo Buds, which cost $130, let users order an Uber ride or find the nearest coffee shop as they stroll down the street. And later this year, Whole Foods shoppers wearing the black buds can ask Alexa what aisle they can find canned tomatoes or other groceries. Amazon said the earbuds will start shipping in October.
- Echo Studio -
A smart speaker with five directional speakers and sophisticated software for premium sound quality and Alexa digital assistant controls built in.
The Echo Studio has three mid-range speakers, a tweeter and a bass. It integrates Dolby Laboratories Inc.'s Atmos audio technology and works with Amazon's new high-definition music service. Amazon said Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group are helping to support higher-quality audio for the speaker.
The new device looks similar to the HomePod, making it noticeably larger than any existing Echo. The speaker costs $199 and is available to preorder on Wednesday. Amazon also unveiled a new Echo Show with an 8-inch screen that costs $129.
- New-gen Echos -
Additions to the Echo smart speaker line-up included an improved basic model for $100, a plug-in Echo Flex device for $25, and an Echo Dot with an illuminated clock for $60 because users so often ask the time.
- Echo Show 8 -
An Echo show smart display with an eight-inch screen for $130.
(with inputs from agencies)