In Depth

Amazon hardware event 2019: Echo Buds, Frames and more

From Alexa-powered glasses to pet trackers, the exciting new gadgets announced at the product keynote

Amazon has unveiled new Alexa-powered Echo products designed to extend the virtual assistant’s reach well beyond users’ homes. 

The gadgets are among 14 new entries to the Echo smart speaker line-up and other smart products announced on Wednesday at Amazon’s annual hardware event in Seattle, Washington.

Fans can also look forward to a range of new Alexa features, including the option to make the smart assistant speak in the voice of Samuel L. Jackson. The actor will be the first star featured on a new system that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to allow Alexa to impersonate celebrities.

“Other updates included new privacy options such as auto-deletion of voice recordings, and new commands that force the program to reveal the data it has collected,” The Guardian reports.  

But what are the most exciting new Amazon devices in the pipeline? Here’s a round-up:

Echo Frames

Headlining the product keynote was the launch of Echo Frames, which Pocket-lint describes as “a wearable Echo device with some nifty-looking eyeglasses attached”.

Unlike Google Glasses, which projected information directly onto the lenses, Echo Frames feature integrated microphones and two tiny inward-facing speakers that enable the user to make requests to Alexa and get responses. 

Users can also swipe the side of the frames to “get more information, set reminders and use smart home gear while on the go”, says CNet

Echo Frames are available to purchase by invitation and are currently exclusive to the US market. 

Echo Buds

Next up are the Echo Buds, a pair of Alexa-powered bluetooth earphones developed in conjuction with US audio giant Bose. 

The earphones are equipped with Bose’s signature noise-cancelling technology, which actively cuts out most intrusive sounds, and offer audio quality that “far surpasses that of Apple’s Airpods”, says Engadget

And of course, users will be able to make use of all the standard Alexa services, such as giving voice commands to request that music or news be played or paused. 

Pre-orders for the Echo Buds are open now, with prices starting at £119.99. 

Echo Loop

Described by TechRadar as Amazon’s “weirdest product yet”, the Echo Loop is the company’s take on a smart ring.

Rather than talking to Alexa through a smart speaker, “you can just slip the Loop - a thick, speaker-filled ring - over your finger and chat with the voice assistant on the go, walkie-talkie style”, the tech news site explains. 

The wearer hits a button on the inside of the Loop to activate Alexa before speaking into the tiny in-build microphone, and then raises their hand to their ear to hear the answer.  

The ring also has an in-built haptic engine that vibrates to indicate that Alexa is listening, and a battery that can reportedly power the device for a full day. 

The Loop is currently only available to customers in the US, with prices starting at $129 (£105). What’s more, it’s an invitation-only product, so only those contacted by Amazon can get their hands on one. 

Fetch

Amazon has made its mark on just about every field in the gadget industry - and now the company is turning its attention to the world of pet tech.

The new Fetch device is essentially a small wireless gadget that connects to a dog’s collar, allowing users to track their pet’s whereabouts and to geofence their home in order to get an alert if the animal makes a break for it.

Fetch uses Amazon’s new Sidewalk, a “low-bandwidth protocol” that can run “ultra-low power devices and connect them over long distances”, The Verge reports. Sidewalk lets Fetch track pets within a 500-metre radius of their owners, or up to a mile if the device can connect to multiple Sidewalk-powered gadgets. 

The pet tracker is expected to be released next year, although no official launch date has been announced.

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