The next Echo has arrived in the form of the Echo Look, a camera-based digital smart home assistant, and stylist. Rumor has it that the next, next Echo that Amazon releases will be more than just a speaker; it will have an interactive display. What’s more is that Amazon might be releasing this new unit soon. Very soon. Perhaps within the next month.
Reports of this new device claim it is being called Knight as its code name. If this new unit does indeed join the Amazon echo family soon, it could add video chatting and online shopping capabilities to an already impressive smart home technology lineup that includes the original Echo, the portable Echo Tap, the mini Echo Dot, and now the camera-friendly Echo Look.
With Apple reportedly developing their smart home assistant and Google Home already on the market and making advances – such as voice recognition and distinction for users – Amazon seems to be feeling the pressure. I always cringe when I hear this type of rumor, because I know that technology sometimes just takes time and I hate to think of it being rushed. I hope Amazon does good by its loyal fan base and doesn’t release something that isn’t ready for market just to one-up its competitors.
The reports of a screen-based Echo are not new, of course. This trajectory seems like the natural course for smart home assistants. As the technology and learning machines behind these items advances, it makes sense from a builder and user standpoint to create products that have as few limitations as possible. The Echo brain, Alexa, is already available on Amazon Fire tablets, which I would say is the first generation of its screen-based smart home assistant.
Today, users of the Amazon Echo have to use the device’s companion app on their smartphone or tablet to enable skills, see their to-do and shopping lists, review their history, and learn more about their requests. While this means that users can do those things from anywhere – even across the room from their device – putting in on the unit with a screen would mean that they would have to access their unit. So, you could really argue the convenience of either of those features.
Ultimately, Amazon is setting their Echo device – and Alexa – to handle increasing complex requests. For shopping purposes (an obvious driving factor in all Amazon design and development decisions), a device screen would be able to quickly return results that users could see so they could confirm their choice. It would improve accuracy and eliminate shopping frustration for users while making the process faster.
A screen would also allow the Echo to be more interactive. Maybe Alexa will get a face, or maybe we’ll each be able to design what our own Alexa looks like. Once the device is able to identify users based on voice recognition, maybe we can all have our own different Alexa avatars.
A natural move now would be for Amazon to take the camera design of the Echo Look and develop it to the next generation that includes a screen so that the device can take video chatting to the next level.
(UPDATE: Amazon has released the Echo Show. You can read about the new Echo Show in our recent post https://house-o-matic.com/news/amazon-releases-touch-screen-echo-show/)