Amazon is a giant company, one that has jumped from simply selling things online to offering a wide range of devices, including tablets, phones and even a set-top box. Now, they’ve even got a Google Now-like speaker system.
Amazon is calling their mini tower the Echo, and it’s a speaker system that also acts as an always-on, always ready information hub that responds to the sound of your voice. Simply use the voice command, “Alexa,” and the Echo will listen to whatever query you might have to best populate an audio response immediately after. Echo can answer questions about the weather, can set an alarm for a time that you wish, and even add things to a shopping list.
The Echo has quite a bit of technology shoved into the system, including what Amazon calls “Far-Field Voice Recognition,” which allows Echo to use seven separate microphones that are tucked under the device’s “light ring” to effectively pick up your voice from just about anywhere, from any direction. The Echo also includes noise cancellation, so even if you’re playing music through the speakers, you can still ask questions without hassle.
Echo is also connected to Amazon’s cloud system, so it is effectively always learning. This also means that Amazon will be able to add more functionality down the road without much of a hassle from the owner. Additionally, as a user uses Echo more and more, the device will pick up on the user’s speech pattern, personal preferences and vocabulary.
Of course, not many things can be done without an app these days, and Echo is no different. There is a dedicated application available for Android, which will let you manage those previously mentioned alarms, shopping lists and more. It can also control music from within the app, too.
Amazon currently has a launch page for the Echo, which fans of the device can “Request an invitation.” Amazon says that an invite to purchase the Echo will land in the email inbox “in the coming weeks.” It will cost $99 for Amazon Prime subscribers, and $199 for non-Prime subscribers.