Everything to know about 3 new Amazon devices unveiled on Tuesday
Amazon debuted a robot, a digital projector for kids, and an updated Echo Show smart hub on Tuesday, extending its effort to get its devices into more homes.
The devices, most of which use the Alexa voice assistant, help Amazon sell more subscription services, like security monitoring software. And, of course, they also give users more devices for buying products through Amazon’s core retail app.
Here are three of the most interesting new Amazon products.
Meet Astro, Amazon’s robot for the home
Amazon’s biggest announcement was Astro, a robot that can tail people at home, play music, and read podcasts aloud. It’s essentially an Echo Show smart hub on wheels that can autonomously navigate homes—at least ones that don’t have staircases. Amazon infused Astro with some personality; it makes chirping sounds and can perform tricks like dancing (it gyrates and swivels its head while playing funky tunes).
That Astro can also be used as a home security surveillance tool—via video it sends to Amazon’s Ring subscription service—is bound to concern privacy advocates, who worry about the proliferation of tools for constant monitoring. For what it’s worth, Amazon vice president of product Charlie Tritschler told Fortune that the company consulted with privacy organizations like the World Privacy Forum non-profit to ensure that the robot doesn’t create any major privacy holes. Precautions includes Astro encrypting, or scrambling, the map data that Astro generates when learning how to navigate a home without bumping into walls. Still, map data is stored in Amazon’s cloud computing service, which Astro must connect through the Internet in order to properly function. Privacy advocates, however, generally prefer that is data stored directly on the device.
Amazon’s new kid projector
Amazon’s new Glow combines videoconferencing with a projector—all to entertain children. Kids can talk to family members or friends using the 8-inch screen—it also functions like an Echo Show— while playing with a touch-sensitive digital projection that’s beamed from the device onto an accompanying physical playmat, It’s an unusual device, to say the least, but the idea is that children can play games like Chess and Go Fish via the playmat while adults read to them on the video screen.
Glow will cost $250 as an “introductory, early access price,” implying that it may cost more at a later date. Amazon did not reveal Glow’s release date.
The new Echo Show 15
The new Echo Show has a 15.6-inch screen, bigger than the previous version’s 10-inch screen. Unlike its predecessor, Echo Show 15 can be mounted on walls, similar to televisions.
The device comes with a new feature that displays personal information when people gaze at the screen. One roommate, for example, can look at Echo Show and quickly see their digital calendar for the day, while another roommates can do the same thing after and instantly see their own calendars or digital notes.
Echo Show 15 costs $250 and will be available later this year.
Update: An Amazon spokesperson said that Glow does not use Alexa, making it the rare Amazon device that is not powered by the company’s voice-activated digital assistant.
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