Alexa pushes deeper into ambient computing with new wearables and a long-distance wireless network
Soon you'll be able to wear Alexa-enabled rings, glasses or earbuds, and have the assistant speak to visitors when you're not home.
In addition to upgraded smart speakers, Amazon yesterday unveiled Alexa-embedded wearables, deeper Alexa integration with its Ring security cameras, and a new long-range communication protocol that will connect Alexa devices together.
The new Alexa wearables are:
Echo Frames: glasses that come with a microphone and down-firing speakers Amazon calls "open-ear technology," that allow wearers to listen to audio and interact with Alexa without wearing headphones. It also makes use of something called "VIP Filter," which aggressively limits the number of notifications Alexa displays or whispers in your ear. Currently sold by invitation only for $179.99. Afterward, the price will be $249.99.
Echo Loop: a smart ring Amazon calls "your shortcut to quick calls, fast answers, and bits of info that help you stay on top of your day." The wearer initiates Alexa via a small button on the side of the ring. The ring is designed to be whispered and spoken into, and then placed near the user's ear, where it can relay phone calls or answer questions through a small speaker. Currently sold by invitation only for $129.99. Afterward, the price will be $179.99.
Echo Buds: wireless earbuds that allow support for Siri and Google Assistant as well. It will release on October, 30 at $129.99.
Alexa has also been given a larger presence in other, more farflung appliances. Those are:
Echo Flex: a discrete, possibly hard-to-nice wall plug contains a microphone, speaker and USB port. It will release on November, 14 for $24.99 and supports a motion sensor or night-light USB-add on for $14.99 each.
Ring answering service: Soon, Alexa will be able to speak to home visitors on your behalf through Amazon's Ring security cameras. If you enable her to, Alexa will be able to ask whether the visitor would like to leave a message for you.
Amazon also announced Amazon SideWalk, an entirely new wireless network to connect disparate Alexa devices across long distances. Built to outreach wifi and bluetooth, Sidewalk will bring service to low power devices. It will run on the 900mHz wireless band and will allegedly connect devices up to a mile away. Amazon's David Limp said that the company has sent 700 test beacons to homes in Los Angeles to test range and service.
The first product to run off of SideWalk is Ring Fetch, a GPS tag for dogs.