Gadgets

Amazon event | From Astro robot to Alexa upgrades: here are the highlights

Devices (clockwise): Mickey-inspired OtterBox Den Series stand, Halo View, Glow, Astro, Smart Thermostat, Ring Jobsite Security, Always Home Cam, and Echo Show 15. | Photo Credit: Amazon
Ishan Patra 30 September 2021 10:13 IST
Updated: 30 September 2021 10:14 IST

The retailer launched an Alexa-powered home robot, a larger wall-mountable Echo display, a device for kids, a health tracker, and a custom-built Alexa assistant in collaboration with Disney.

Amazon has unveiled several devices that expand its hardware portfolio, along with new services and Alexa features. The retailer launched an Alexa-powered home robot, a larger wall-mountable Echo display, a device for kids, a health tracker, and a custom-built Alexa assistant in collaboration with Disney.

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Home robot

The home robot, Astro, can move around autonomously and monitor the home. It is loaded with artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, sensors, and voice and edge computing. It uses digital eyes on its rotating screen, body movements, and expressive tones to communicate with people.

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The Alexa-powered robot can be used around the house for information, smart home control, and entertainment. The home robot, which is part of Amazon’s Day 1 Editions, is also built with safety and privacy features, such as on-device processing, safety sensors combined with a dedicated safety processor, and a button to turn off cameras, microphones, and motion.

Wall-mountable display

The newest addition to the Echo Show family is a 15.6-inch, 1080p Full HD display, dubbed Echo Show 15. It can be mounted on a wall or placed on a counter, either in portrait or landscape orientation.

The device has a customisable home screen with Alexa widgets, which frequently refresh to stay up to date, and can be rearranged to suit individual needs and preferences. Moreover, with the new visual ID feature, Alexa can recognise people and personalise the on-screen information on the device.

The new smart display is powered by Amazon AZ2 Neural Edge processor, and capable of on-device speech and computer vision processing. It can be used for streaming movies, music, and news.

Health and fitness

Amazon introduced three new health and fitness solutions – Halo View health tracker, Halo Fitness and Halo Nutrition services.

The next-generation Halo device features an AMOLED touch-sensitive colour display, an optical sensor to monitor heart rate and blood oxygen, a skin temperature sensor, and an accelerometer. The wearable device offers easy access to activity, sleep scores, blood oxygen levels, live workout-tracking, text and move notifications with up to seven days of battery life.

Halo Fitness offers customers hundreds of exclusive, studio-quality workouts for all fitness levels. At launch, Halo members can choose from cardio, strength, yoga, outdoor, and mobility classes.

Besides, the Halo Nutrition experience is designed to help members in building healthy eating habits. It features personalised tools to discover nutrient-rich recipes or plan out a week of healthful eating.

Interactive device for kids

Amazon Glow is a new interactive device for kids that features a dedicated 8-inch display and a 19-inch touch-sensitive, projected space. It combines immersive projection, sensing, and video technologies to help kids read stories, play games, create art and learn.

The virtual experience allows remote family and friends to see a child on a tablet and participate in the same activities using the Glow app on their own tablet. It provides access to thousands of books and dozens of interactive games and art activities, designed specifically for Glow, including content from Disney, Mattel, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Workshop.

‘Hey, Disney!’

Amazon has partnered with Disney to create a custom voice assistant that will work alongside Alexa at home and across Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms.

‘Hey, Disney!’ will allow people to interact with some of their most beloved characters from the worlds of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, simply by saying “Hey, Disney!” on supported Echo devices.

Starting next year, the service will give access to interactive Disney storytelling experiences and entertainment, as well as content like jokes, fun facts, and special surprises featuring Disney characters. Amazon also introduced a Mickey-inspired OtterBox Den Series stand for Echo Show 5.

Alexa features

Amazon announced some Alexa features and services, including a subscription service designed to help ageing family members feel more comfortable and confident living independently.

Besides, users will be able to create motion-based Alexa Routines that start when they enter or exit a room, using new ultrasound motion detection on specific Echo devices. They will also be able to keep track of their devices, like Echo Buds or Tile Trackers using the new map widget.

Additionally, the company is bringing on-device (offline) voice support, enabling Alexa to process voice requests directly on the device, without sending them to the cloud. It will be first available to customers in the U.S. using devices powered by the AZ2 processor.

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