Amazon Alexa Expands Smart Home Voice Controls

Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Tap are two new Alexa-enabled devices designed to be the voice-controlled back-end for everything in a smart home.

Amazon wants to own your home. Today Amazon introduced two Alexa-enabled devices that are cheaper than Amazon Echo - Amazon Echo Dot ($89) and Amazon Tap ($129).

Amazon Echo Dot is a mini version of Amazon Echo with nearly identical features, including the ability to ask Echo Dot to check the weather, play music and control connected devices around your home. However, Amazon Echo Dot is designed to be connected to a home audio system - essentially bringing Alexa to your speakers - and play music from iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, and others.

At this point, multiple Amazon Echo Dots can’t interact with one another. Surely Amazon will add this capability in the future, allowing someone to tell their Echo Dot in the bedroom to play music from the Echo Dot in the living room.

Another weird thing about Amazon Echo Dot is that it’s currently only available to Prime members who already own an Amazon Echo or Fire TV users. Again, it’s designed to expand Alexa’s reach to every room in your home, but this seems like an odd stipulation. It’s unclear if Amazon will open up orders of the Echo Dot to the general public. If you meet the aforementioned criteria, you can purchase an Amazon Echo Dot simply by saying “Alexa, order an Echo Dot” to your Amazon Echo.

Amazon Tap has the same tower-like form factor as Amazon Echo, but it’s cordless, has a 9-hour battery life and can be easily moved around your home. Amazon Tap, however, can’t be voice activated like Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Echo. Amazon Tap needs to be initiated with the touch of a finger.

Amazon Tap, which will ship March 31, 2016, is available for pre-order on Amazon’s website.

Amazon Echo Adds Nest, Honeywell Thermostat Support

In another sign that points to Amazon’s pursuit of smart home dominance, Amazon Echo is now compatible with Honeywell and Nest thermostats - two of the biggest thermostat brands around. Both Honeywell and Nest Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats should work with Alexa by the end of March 2016, Amazon said.

In February 2016, Amazon Echo received official support for the Ecobee3 connected thermostat. Amazon Echo and the Ecobee3 are integrated through an API called Alexa Connected Home skills.

The Amazon Tap is the portable, Alexa-powered Bluetooth speaker that has a 9-hour battery life.

All of this shows how Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem continues to get smarter. We’ve also seen Amazon Alexa control an electric wheelchair and control a 3D Robotics Iris+ drone with voice commands.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe:  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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