This year’s Amazon event focused on five devices: Echo, Ring, Fire TV, and Eero, and Echo Show. Most of them have already proven their value in the past years; however, the new additions bring even more promise and a breakthrough in areas previously unexplored.
Among the changes arriving in 2020 are a new spherical fourth-generation Echo and Echo Dot, smart home and Wi-Fi capable Eero router systems, and new interfaces for the Fire TV and Echo Show. However, it was the Ring, a home surveillance camera, that caught most of the attention.
The new generation of devices is powered by Amazon’s first-generation AZ1 Neural Processor, a silicon chip designed in partnership with MediaTek to process voice faster and accelerate machine learning applications.
Most of Amazon’s new products will be made available by October, right in time for the holiday season.
Spherical Echo and Echo Dot
For most of its existence, the Amazon Echo has been a tall vertical cylinder. This is changing in 2020, with a completely spherical design, standing six inches tall.
The new Echo has six far-field microphones, a three-inch woofer, and dual-firing tweeters. Its adaptive sound intelligently listens to how the audio is flowing in the room and makes adjustments for a perfect mix. The device combines all previous Echo and Echo Plus smart home features such as ZigBee, Amazon Sidewalk, and Bluetooth Low Energy, and comes in three colors (Charcoal, Twilight Blue, and Glacier White).
The fourth-generation Echo Dot and second-generation Echo Dot with Clock, smaller than the Echo, include four far-field microphones. The Echo Dot Kids is also now going to feature a Tiger and Panda design and costs less than the previous model. Their new Kids Profile feature can identify when a kid is speaking and adjust its responses to be more child-friendly. All of these now feature a shell made with 100% recycled materials.
The new Echo costs $99.99, the Echo Dot $49.99, and Echo Dot with Clock $59.99. The Echo Kids costs $59.99. All these devices are available for pre-order and will ship on October 22.
Eero 6 and Pro 6
Two new Eero mesh router systems are going to continue successfully filling in a gap in the market. The main Eero connects into your modem or internet line and can broadcast to other Eeros. Integrated with Alexa and Apple HomeKit system, the devices allow for more control and security of connected devices.
The announced Eero generation offers support for Wi-Fi 6 and coverage for over 75 devices at once, and can also act as a Zigbee hub for smart home device connection. A single Eero 6 covers up to 1,500 square feet, and three of them reach 5,000 square feet. The two-pack includes a new mesh Wi-Fi extender, and the three-pack two extenders — all in dual-band. The Eero Pro 6 delivers tri-band for faster Wi-Fi performance and covers more ground — 2,000 square feet for one node, and 6,000 for three.
The Eero 6 will cost $129 for one, $199 for two, and $279 for three. The Eero Pro will be available for $229 for one, $399 for two, or $599 for three.
The Echo Show 10 looks a lot like the Next Hub Max but now includes a motor so the display can turn and angle to a user’s voice. The screen is 10 inches and includes a 13-megapixel camera on the top bezel. The display is mounted onto a base.
The Echo Show provides a more effortless experience for calls, communication, and entertainment. It includes Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu, and a 2.1 audio system with adaptive sound for calls and music. It can also work on sentry mode, picking up on motion. The new Fire TV, on the other hand, will now feature Profiles — facilitating its use by families. The interface will be customized for each member.
Amazon is also launching Luna, a new cloud game streaming service for Fire TV and PC. Built on top of AWS, Luna delivers a low-latency experience and includes legacy games like Control, Resident Evil VII, Sonic Mania, and Assassin‘s Creed. A specially developed controller, the Luna Controller, can connect to the game cloud, reducing latency. Amazon is also partnering with publisher Ubisoft to offer Day 1 availability of some of their newest games.
The Echo Show 10 will cost $249.99. The new Fire TV Stick is staying at $39.99, and the Fire TV Stick Lite will be $29.99. The Luna service will cost $5.99 a month and the Luna Controller $49.99.
Ring Always Home Camera and Ring for The Car
Ring Always Home Camera and Ring for The Car
Perhaps the most popular release so far, the Ring Always Home Camera is an autonomous flying indoor camera that can ‘patrol’ a house, moving either on predetermined routes or behaving on demand. Its speed is about three feet per second and can sustain flight for about five minutes. The device only records when in motion, and the lenses are physically blocked when it’s in the charging base.
Ring is a response to users requesting a product that can provide multiple viewpoints within a home without the need for several devices. It works a little like a Roomba, using sensors, cameras, motors, and propellers to avoid obstacles. Users will be able to define paths by walking, and multiple paths will be able to be stored.
Ring is arriving in the form of three products. The Ring Car Alarm plugs into a car’s OBD-II port and can alert the owner of what’s going on through the Ring app, triggering, for example, the car’s alarm from afar if something goes wrong. The Ring Car Cam is Amazon’s version of a dashcam and can start recording if a crash or bump is detected. Because it’s connected with Alexa, it can also be ordered to record with voice. Finally, the Car Connect API will integrate software and a physical hardware attachment that can plug into a vehicle and get content like video footage and vehicle status info.
The Ring Always Home Camera will launch in 2021 and cost $249.99. The Ring Car Alarm will cost $59.99, and the Ring Car Cam $199.99.
What’s to Come
Ring is probably Amazon’s most ambitious project yet. Without a clear release date and a pending FCC authorization, plenty of eager customers are ready to acquire the device as soon as it becomes available. The brand, which hasn’t released any sales numbers, is estimated to have sold nearly 400,000 security devices in December 2019 alone.
Amazon’s new generation of products is all expected to perform well, continuing a steady upward trend. Amazon Alexa is the most widely used voice platform in the market, with over 28,000 compatible smart home devices. More than 50 million Amazon Echos have been sold since they were released in 2015, holding nearly 70% of the total US smart speaker market. And by the beginning of this year, FireTV was estimated to be present in 40 million homes globally, outpacing its rival Roku by almost 10 million users.
Amazon’s Luna service is a particularly promising solution, especially because it includes several new games and provides integration with Twitch game streaming service. Because Twitch will be baked directly into the product, this will allow gamers to provide instant commentary on their channels.
Amazon seems to be working to “be everywhere.” Their constellation of connected products, if they come to succeed, will collect data not only in our homes but also in our neighborhoods. Ring’s announcement is part of Amazon’s intention to expand its products in private and public spaces. A good example of this is the Sidewalk project, a shared network that could connect Amazon’s products at a larger scale, for example, throughout a neighborhood. This will surely create challenges for lawmakers and law enforcement.
Amazon reported, this July, revenues of $88.9 billion for the second quarter of 2020, with a net income of $5.2 billion and shares earning $10.30. International sales grew an impressive 38%, and North American sales did even better, growing 43%. Both revenue and earnings were higher than anticipated.
As we head into the holiday season, Amazon’s upward trend is expected to continue on the rise, with its new products becoming available as soon as next month.
About the Author
Yisela Alvarez Trentini is an Anthropologist + User Experience / Human-Computer Interaction Designer with an interest in emerging technologies, social robotics, and VR/AR.