Amazon announces new Echo Show 15, Astro Robot and an indoor drone


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Erin Lawrence

amazon, echo-show-15_media_lifestyle_01

Amazon just dropped what has to be one of the largest lists of new products a tech company has revealed all at once.  The tech giant revealed several new products, including an all new larger Echo Show 15, an indoor drone for home surveillance, a new smart thermostat–and a rolling robot. Here’s what we know about these new products.

Amazon announcement: New Echo Show 15

The Echo Show 15 is the largest Echo Show to date, with a 15.6-inch screen featuring a 1080p HD display. The larger size and the device’s ability to be mounted to a wall both horizontally and vertically make the Echo Show the real deal for a home AI device. It’s poised to take that wall space away from your trusty paper calendar. And why not? It’s able to do everything your calendar does, plus so much more.

With the Alexa voice assistant, you can update your shopping list, check who is at the door (using Picture in Picture, no less), video chat with loved ones, and yes, you’ll still know what day it is and when Timmy has soccer practice.

The larger size allows you to see several info widgets simultaneously and swap between them as needed. The new Echo Show 15 also has a feature called Visual ID, which detects who is standing in front of it, allowing you to customize the device for different family members and enable parental controls when your child is in front of it.

Echo Show 15 will be available for $329.99CAD. Countertop stands and under-cabinet mount accessories are sold separately.

astro_lifestyle_motion, amazon robot

Amazon’s Astro Robot

Amazon has introduced a mobile version of their AI assistant, but this isn’t simply Alexa on wheels. Astro will have its own personality, voice and mannerisms that are supposed to make him a defacto member of the family. Astro moves around your space on wheels and has a screen that doubles as its face. You can make calls to others using Alexa Together, check in on family members or your house via the camera, and have Astro act as a mobile security guard via Alexa Guard, using audio detection to listen for alarms or other customizable and pre-set sounds, alerting you if it hears them.

Astro’s AI learns the layout of your house and can find its way back to its dock to charge up when needed. It can send Alexa alerts and updates as needed both to the robot and from the robot, to your mobile device. It also has a telescoping neck so it can reach up, giraffe-style to see if you left the stove on.

With the robust support for smart home devices available through Alexa, many new possibilities arise from a fully autonomous, mobile camera/microphone device.

Ring drone, flying camera, new, amazonRing Always Home Flying Drone

In a sure sign that you are indeed living in the future, Ring has released a new flying drone camera that can be triggered when a window or door is opened unexpectedly, flying to the spot where the intrusion is happening, and recording video of the situation that you can watch from your mobile device. The drone, or Ring Flying Cam, maybe, integrates with Ring Alarm (of which Amazon also Announced  Pro version of the alarm too… I can’t keep up!) so you can immediately get a view on a door or window sensor opening unexpectedly.

You can also program flight paths for the drone to monitor at pre-set intervals. While the drone is docked, the camera is blocked by the charging dock, so there’s less concern with privacy, and the drone isn’t silent, so you’ll be able to hear when it’s flying and recording. It’s unclear whether the drone supports night vision, but it is inddor-only and features enclosed propellors for safety.

AMZ-Smart-Thermostat_media_lifestyle_01Amazon Smart Thermostat

Partnering with Honeywell, Amazon has released the Amazon Smart Thermostat. It’s compatible with most 24-volt HVAC systems and is a competitor for the leading smart thermostats with a low price point. You could say it’s a Nest Thermostat competitor, but a t a price that is far more appealing ($59USD; about half of other smart home thermostats). The thermostat will learn your patterns and automatically adjust the temperature for you after a while. You’ll also be able to combine it with Alexa routines to set the temperature based on time or movement in the space. The controls seem dead simple to understand and use, and the design is certainly understated.

No information was provided on the coming Canadian availability of Astro, the drone and the smart thermostat, or any of the other cool devices announced, so stay tuned. If it’s anything like other Amazon products (I’m looking at you Halo!) It will be a while before we see them north of the 49th.

Halo View

amazon, halo view, new fitness, trackerSpeaking of Halo, Amazon revealed Halo View, a new health tracker with an AMOLED color display for at-a-glance access to Halo health metrics. The previous generation of Halo, a fitness and activity tracker, had a bizarre screenless design. The new Halo View puts it more in line with something like a Fitbit (and in fact it could be a Fitbit Charge 4 clone), where you can see your metrics at a glance. Halo Fitness, a new service with workout classes, and Halo Nutrition, a new experience to help build healthy eating habits were also announced at today’s event. Halo View comes bundled with a full year of Halo membership for $79.99US and will ship in time for the holidays.

Hey Disney Echo Show 5 Lifestyle‘Hey, Disney’ partnership between Amazon and Disney

Finally, Amazon revealed a big partnership with entertainment giant Disney. Amazon and Disney announced ‘Hey, Disney!’, a new kind of voice assistant that will work alongside Alexa at home and at Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms. Expected next year, ‘Hey, Disney!’ will let fans and guests interact with Disney characters, simply by saying “Hey, Disney!” on supported Echo devices.

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