Photographed by Getty Images
By Leena Rao
December 7, 2016

Since debuting last year, Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant—a voice-controlled helper that answers questions, plays music on command, and orders diapers—has only been available in Amazon devices. To use it, people needed one of Amazon’s Echo home automation devices, the Fire TV for streaming video, or an Amazon tablet.

But on Wednesday, GE Lighting became the first outside manufacturer to say it would use Amazon’s Alexa. It plans to introduce a lamp with Alexa built in that can understand voice commands and order food, play music, and preheat your oven.

The C by GE LED Lamp, a circular lamp that is small enough for a bedside table, is to be available sometime between April and the end of June, according to GE Lighting. The price was not disclosed but GE said that the price of the lamp would be less than the Amazon Echo, which is $179.99.

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Amazon debuted Alexa last year for handling what Amazon calls “skills” like checking the weather, turning on lights, reading news, playing music from Amazon’s streaming music service, and the latest sports scores. Amazon has said it has over 1,000 employees working on the service, which is intended as a rival to Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant.

GE said that that its voice-controlled lamp is the first lamp to be embedded with Alexa and that it will be able to do everything that its Echo home automation cousin can do. For example, owners of the new lamp can ask for NFL scores by saying, “Alexa, tell me the latest score of the Baltimore Ravens game.”

It’s not surprising that Amazon would let an outside company integrate Alexa. By enlisting manufacturers like GE, Amazon hopes to encourage greater adoption of its assistant as it competes with Apple and Google.

 

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