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Amazon releases expand horizons of the voice-control “Internet of Things”

Arya Maheshwari & Wikimedia Commons

by Arya Maheshwari, STEM Editor

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The lights slowly blaze to life as you awake, mimicking the dawn sun as the clock glows blue upon reaching six o’clock. Perhaps a rooster crows through the speakers as a calm voice asks you to nod if you’d like your normal breakfast for Wednesdays. The microwave then whirs to life in the background, and the voice rhythmically goes through the day’s weather forecast, your calendar, stock gains and more. Ten minutes later, your car waits, doors opened and seats warmed for you to enter, with a virtual assistant ready to keep you company as you start your day.

To some, this description of a morning routine may seem to fit best in a futuristic portrayal of society of the “science fiction” genre, but it is rapidly becoming a fitting summary of the current state of user technology. This reality drew even closer when the electronic commerce and cloud computing giant Amazon, one of the fastest-growing technology companies with a market value of nearly $915 billion, released an array of new products on Sept. 20.

All connected to Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant similar to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, the thirteen new hardware products include multiple versions of the Amazon Echo speaker, the Echo Auto for use in vehicles and a smart clock, wall plug and  microwave. Nuanced new abilities were showcased for each device, with features allowing for more power available at users’ fingertips – or literally, through their speech.

Amazon’s releases underscore the company’s pursuit in expanding their presence in the “Internet of Things,” or “IoT.” The IoT refers to the growing networks of hardware devices that are linked to a common cloud, allowing for new levels of control and connectedness between everyday items. Specifically, the consumer IoT trend is about remote access and centralized control from the cloud, as it allows users to operate devices without any physical interaction and instead through media like voice control or phone apps, and then access data all compiled digitally in the cloud.

As a group, Amazon’s new Alexa-enabled devices will bring user experience closer to a smooth integration of technology with typical lifestyle. For better or for worse, with these releases and future ones, consumer devices will step closer to a technological reality that seemed like science-fiction just a decade ago.

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Amazon releases expand horizons of the voice-control “Internet of Things”