Amazon’s annual fall hardware event doesn’t exactly have the industry sex appeal that Apple consistently enjoys for its product launches around this same time every year. But that also is not to say that the Seattle-based consumer electronics giant behind now-ubiquitous products like the Kindle and Echo speakers doesn’t make a ton of news at these product extravaganzas. We’ll run through the Amazon event announcements from today’s Productpalooza below, with all of the big headlines coming out of Tuesday’s invite-only event — like the announcement of the new Echo Show 15, plus much more.
Amazon Senior Vice President for Devices and Services David Limp kicked off the event. He offered some remarks about the company’s vision being “how we can craft technology to make customers’ lives even better.” Keep reading below for the event highlights.
Amazon Smart Thermostat
Amazon describes this as “a smart, affordable Energy Star-certified thermostat that works with Alexa and gives customers a simple way to keep their home comfortable and energy-efficient. We worked with the experts who make Honeywell Home thermostats to bring 130 years of experience to Amazon Smart Thermostat.”
Additional facts: Amazon Smart Thermostat will work with most 24V HVAC systems, and it’s priced at $59.99 with preorders starting today. After applying utility-provider rebates, some eligible customers will be able to get an Amazon Smart Thermostat for $10. And others, for nothing at all.
Echo Show 15
Now, we turn to the largest smart display Amazon has ever released. About the $249.99 Echo Show 15, Amazon says that it will be “The new digital heart of your home, bringing all of the things that make your household tick into one place.”
It can be wall-mounted or placed on a stand, either in portrait or landscape mode. It’s also got a large, 15.6″ screen and supports 1080p video streaming.
Further, about the Echo Show 15, from Amazon: It’s powered by Amazon’s next-generation AZ2 Neural Edge processor. This processor enables Echo Show 15 to be able to recognize a person enrolled in a new feature: visual ID. Per Amazon, “With visual ID, Alexa can now recognize you when you’re in Echo Show camera’s field of view. Once Alexa recognizes you, the ambient display will show content that’s personalized for you.”
That includes things like your calendar and music. That new feature is opt-in, by the way, meaning users will have to enroll to use it. Amazon also says that all image processing will happen on-device. And users can delete their visual ID profile at any time.
Alexa users next year will get the ability to teach Alexa to recognize sounds in their home. For example, if your refrigerator makes a beeping sound when it’s open? You can train Alexa to recognize that sound. And to send you a notification so that you can keep your food from going bad.
Amazon also released some interesting Alexa-focused stats today, such as the fact that customers have connected more than 200 million smart home devices to Alexa. The company also debuted Alexa Together, a new service meant to help aging family members for $19.99/month after a six-month free trial period for new customers (or a one-year trial for existing Care Hub customers). “Alexa Together includes an Urgent Response feature, enabling hands-free 24/7 access to a professional emergency helpline. It’s also compatible with third-party devices that can detect when someone has fallen at home.
“Aging loved ones can choose to set up Remote Assist, making it simple for you to help them get the most out of Alexa from afar. As a caregiver, you can do things like set reminders on your loved one’s devices or link a music service so they can easily play their favorite songs. You can also add contacts to their Alexa account so they can call friends and family, hands-free.”
Moving right along, Amazon also announced a Fitbit rival today in the form of the Halo View. This $79.99 band comes with an AMOLED color display that shows glanceable health metrics and workout tracking, among other stats. It also promises up to seven days of battery life and comes in three sports band colors. Amazon also says that the band’s “sleek capsule includes multiple sensors to provide highly accurate information to power Halo health insights, with an optical sensor to monitor heart rate and blood oxygen, a skin temperature sensor, and an accelerometer.” Moreover, it can fully charge in under 90 minutes.
On a related note, Amazon also talked about a new service called Halo Fitness — “an all-new service with hundreds of studio-quality workouts to help members move more and move better. Classes are led by industry experts and integrated with Halo hardware. And Halo Fitness is coming to Halo members starting later this year.
Ring Alarm Pro, Ring Virtual Security Guard, and a home security drone
We also got some Ring-related announcements today. Another gadget Amazon unveiled is the $249.99 Ring Alarm Pro, a base situation with built-in Wi-Fi router that includes alarm and motion detectors, as well as professional monitoring and online threat protection
Meanwhile, the new companion Ring Virtual Security Guard is a subscription service that lets customers have a professional security company visually monitor their Ring cameras. “With this service, you choose which of your cameras are monitored. If one detects motion when your Ring Alarm is armed, a security professional quickly checks the live feed and can respond to any unwanted activity.
“… You can sign up today, and early access customers will get the service free for a limited time. After that, Rapid Response’s monitoring will start at $99 per month, per location.”
Now, let’s say a word about the Always Home Cam, Ring’s autonomous indoor flying camera that’s attachable to a drone. It costs $249.99, and here’s what Amazon says about it. “When you’re away, you can just press a button in the Ring app and it will fly a preplanned route and show you what’s going on. It can also be set to do routes based on a triggered event, like flying to a Ring Door Alarm sensor when it’s tripped in Away mode.” And the invite list for this is opening up today.
Blink Video Doorbell
Blink’s line-up is expanding with the first-generation $49.99 Blink Video Doorbell. “The new Blink Video Doorbell provides affordable, easy-to-use, reliable security at your front door, and is the perfect first step for customers looking to build out a smart home security system,” said Mike Harris, Blink’s Chief Operating Officer. “Blink Video Doorbell is designed for every home — it comes packed with helpful smart security features like customized motion detection zones to monitor the areas that matter most to you and your family. With the addition of a video doorbell to Blink’s smart security camera lineup — including the new Blink Floodlight Camera — you can see who’s at your door, keep an eye out for packages, and protect your whole home no matter where you are.”
Blink Video Doorbell also boasts 1080p HD day and night video, two-way audio, chime app alerts, and more.
Astro home robot
Last but not least: If the prospect of shelling out $999 for an Amazon robot with Alexa integration that rolls around your house and interacts with you sounds exciting? Today is your lucky day.
Perhaps today’s most far-out announcement, the newly announced Astro, Amazon says, “is a new kind of household robot that integrates Alexa, advanced hardware, software, computer vision, and AI in a brand new way.” Using live view as well as an accompanying app, users can send the Astro robot to check on specific rooms at home. It can also check on things, people, and even pets.
The user will also be able to set out-of-bounds zones to instruct Astro where not to go inside the home. You can also set a “do not disturb” mode. That will minimize how much Astro moves around at certain specified times.
“Astro will bring all of your favorite Alexa features like music, news, podcasts, and timers directly to you,” Amazon announced. “Or, if you’re doing a video call, Astro will move with you around the house, so that you can continue the conversation.”