Alexa is everywhere
Being cloud based, Amazon's Alexa digital assistant isn’t limited to Amazon’s own Echo hardware. In fact, she was all over CES last week, in products ranging from home appliances to automobiles. Some devices come with Alexa inside, while others respond voice commands from your Echo hardware.
It’s a major coup for Amazon, as it allows the company to gets its always-listening technology into more homes and gadgets. While simplifying your life, it’ll also make all those Amazon services, especially Prime, stickier and hard to part with.
Here’s a roundup of everything we caught this week that is just one “Alexa” voice command away.
Ford is putting Alexa in cars
Ford is turbocharing its lineup with Amazon's Echo and Alexa. The automaker announced that Alexa will be integrated into the Sync3 AppLink infotainment system, allowing you to use your voice to call up audiobooks, search for destinations, play music, and of course add items to your Amazon shopping list.
This extends to the home, as your Echo will be able to lock or unlock the car, start and stop the engine, lock and unlock the doors, check the remaining fuel range, and get a vehicle mileage summary. It'll be a powerful incentive to get an Echo at home if your car is an eligible model.
Huawei Mate 9
You'd think an Android phone would feature the Google Assistant as your digital aid. Huawei had a different idea. Its new Mate 9 with Alexa integration relies on Amazon's assistant to create to-do lists, get the weather, traffic reports, and of course control your smart home devices. Huawei likely chose to go with Alexa likely out of necessity, as the Google Assistant is currently still exclusive to Google's own Pixel.
Huawei says the phone will cost $600 and be available at Best Buy, Newegg, and of course Amazon.
If Alexa is a little too non-human for you, then maybe the Lynx robot will be a better companion. The robot was walking and dancing around the CES floor as an example of a humanoid robot that gets some of its smarts from Alexa.
The Lynx handles the full range of Alexa services, so you can request a song through Amazon Music or turn off the smart lights in your living room. And because Lynx has a body, it can follow you around and do other tricks like recognize you by face, read out your email, and dictate replies. And if you need to break away from work, the robot even knows how to teach yoga.
LG Smart InstaView Refrigerator
Install LG's Smart InstaView refrigerator in your kitchen, and you'll be able to add items to your grocery list or order them from Amazon by talking to your fridge.
The Smart InstaView has a massive, 29-inch display that's powered by LG's webOS software, but Alexa is the real star here.
Television is a natural place for voice commands. Who wouldn't want to spend less time punching a remote's buttons and sifting through the typically labyrinthine excuse for a program guide?
The Dish Hopper DVR is teaming up with Alexa so you can change the channel and do more through voice commands. Your Hopper will integrate directly with an Echo, enabling you to issue commands like "go to ESPN," "play the Warriors game," or "find comedy movies."
Dish says the integration is coming in the first half of the year.
Incipio CommandKit Wi-Fi Light Switch
Incipio offered a pair of smart home products that are now ready to chat with Alexa. The CommandKit Wi-Fi Light Switch is reasonably priced at $60 and will let you turn on, off, or dim your lights thanks to a series of voice commands that you can issue to your Echo.
Amazon's Alexa isn't the only companion, as it'll also work with Siri thanks to integration with Apple's HomeKit.
Incipio CommandKit Smart Power Strip
Incipio's other new product is a power strip with four automatable outlets. This way you can independently control each of the four outlets without shutting off all the power at once. With Alexa integration, there'll be no need to crawl under the desk or reach behind the television to power down.
The power strip will also keep track of your energy usage so you can find out which is the major drain on your monthly bill. The CommandKit power strip is $100, and it also pairs with HomeKit if you want to go the Apple route.
Your entire kitchen could be listening if you install some of Whirlpool's new Alexa-infused appliances.
Whirlpool announced that it forthcoming washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ovens will have Alexa skills that enable them to be controlled by voice commands. You'll soon be able to pause and start a load of laundry, find out when your baked cookies will be ready, and even check the status on the water filter in your refrigerator.
C by GE Lamp
This lamp will definitely be a conversation piece. Not only is the design unusual, but the light loop is connected to what's essentially an Echo.
The set of speakers in the base of the lamp runs Alexa, and can do all of those Alexa things that you're used to. Of course you're also able to turn the lamp on and off. It can also create a lightshow for the morning wakeup if you need something more than just the typical alarm blast.
GE first showed this off in December, and it made its way to the CES floor this week. The price isn't set, but a GE representatives told Cnet it may be around $180.
Lenovo Smart Assistant
Don't call it an Echo. However it's essentially just like one, as Lenovo has built its own version of an always-listening device that's powered by Alexa.
The Lenovo Smart Assistant does everything that an Echo can do, the difference being a somewhat snazzier design and a more robust speaker. The $130 gadget uses six far-field microphones on top of the speaker to capture your voice. There are two more in the center, which gives you eight in all.
The device is powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 CPU, with 2GB of DRAM and 8GB of onboard storage. There's an even pricier Harman Karman edition coming for $180.
Samsung Powerbot VR7000
Add vaccuming the floor to the list of skills that Alexa may soon be able to pull off. Samsung unveiled its latest smart vacuum, the PowerBot 7000, which is slated to have Alexa integration when it reaches stores later this year.
Additionally, it's said to be 28-percent shorter than other models in the Powerbot family. It includes 20-watt suction and a "Edge Clean Master" feature that's supposed to clean closer to the walls. Pricing has not been announced.
Somfy is a motorized window-shade manufacturer that moved into the smart home market with its acquisition of Myfox late last year. At CES the company showed a home security monitor that integrates a camera with night vision, a motion sensor, a 100-decibel siren, and key fobs for arming/disarming.
Most importantly for our purposes, the Somfy One also talks to Alexa to execute a series of its commands through voice recognition.
Hydrao First Smart Shower Heads
Water conservation is good for the planet and your walter bill. Hydrao First is bringing out three new shower heads at CES in varying levels of futuristic designs to assist you.
The main claim to fame is that they will track your water usage and nudge you to use less by changing the LED colors shining from the shower heads. You can get these details by asking Alexa, allowing you to find out how much water you've used and if you've saved anything on your water bill.
The Hydrao First is available for preorder in the US (previously it was exclusive to France) for $99. There are two other models, a $99 Hydrao Drop that fits onto existing showerheads and a $160 Hydrao Loop that'll be available later this year.
Ask Alexa for dinner
The final innovation comes from Amazon itself. Amazon announced that Prime subscribers in 20 U.S. cities will be able to order from a restaurant with their Echo and have the food show up at their door. The new Alexa skill enables you to tap into the network of Amazon Restaurants, which are those that participate in the retail giant's delivery program.
If you'd rather peruse a menu, you can check out the options from the Prime Now mobile app. This illustrates how Amazon won't stop until it can handle just about any type of item that you'd want to buy, and is planning on making Alexa a key part of the process.