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Amazon’s latest devices push it deeper into wellness, cars

The lineup unveiled at the presentation includes a bedside device called Halo Rise and an upgraded array of Echo smart speakers, as well as a new Kindle and enhanced security technology from Amazon’s Ring division.

September 29, 2022 / 12:29 PM IST

Amazon.com Inc.’s annual device event Wednesday showed the e-commerce giant pushing further into wellness, security and the auto industry, underscoring an effort to weave its technology into every part of consumers’ lives.

The lineup unveiled at the presentation includes a bedside device called Halo Rise and an upgraded array of Echo smart speakers, as well as a new Kindle and enhanced security technology from Amazon’s Ring division.

Though Amazon remains in the shadow of companies like Apple Inc. in hardware technology, it’s rapidly spreading its reach. New wellness products complement a broader expansion into the health-care industry that already includes an online pharmacy, a wearable wellness device and a range of experiments in applying data analysis tools to medical science.

The company announced plans in July to buy One Medical in a deal valued at $3.49 billion. That company, whose parent is called 1Life Healthcare Inc., operates 182 medical offices in 25 markets in the US.

The circular bedside device, with a ring-shaped light and digital clock face, is a combination sleep tracker, lamp and alarm clock. It will be available later this year for $140, Amazon said.

The gadget uses low-power radar to analyze the person sleeping closest to it, the Seattle-based company said at the event. Unlike many of Amazon’s home electronics, it has neither a speaker nor microphone. Halo Rise can determine a user’s respiratory rate and has environmental sensors to determine temperature. The product also integrates with the Alexa voice assistant and the Echo smart speaker to play music and take commands such as dimming the lights.

Wednesday’s event ranged from relatively minor upgrades to more ambitious plans, such as a pilot program to turn Amazon’s Astro robot into a security guard for businesses. The shares gained as much as 2.8% to $117.63.

The announcements included:

· An updated Echo Studio with improved 3D audio, known as spatial audio. The device also has enhanced bass and better overall sound quality, Amazon said. Some of these changes will come for free via software update to existing Echo Studios. The new model will cost $200 and ship this year.

· New Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock models that add improved speakers and twice as much as bass without increasing the size of the device. The new Dot with Clock has an improved screen that can show song information. Both new products also have sensors to determine the room’s temperature. More significantly, the new products have Eero technology built in, allowing them to serve as Wi-Fi router extenders and eliminating dead zones. The Dot will cost $50, and the Dot with Clock will be $60.

· A new Echo Dot Kids in owl and dragon versions for $60. These have custom greetings and jokes through Alexa.

· An updated $55 Echo Auto device with a smaller design, allowing customers to add Alexa integration to their cars. The device can help users control their music and handle text messages. There’s also a new feature for requesting roadside assistance. The first device was criticized for bugs and limited functionality after launch, and has among the lowest customer reviews of Amazon-built electronic devices.

· Amazon and BMW also announced that the carmaker is working on a new version of its voice control system that is built upon Alexa. The company in recent years has worked to extend the reach of its voice assistant by offering its underlying building blocks to other companies to create their own custom software.

· A new Fire TV Cube can convert high-definition content into 4K with a much faster processor. The device also has an updated microphone array for improved voice input and a fabric-wrapped design. It has dedicated Ethernet and USB ports for connecting to other devices and an HDMI input control. That lets customers use voice control with other parts of a TV, such as their cable service.

· Amazon also announced a new Alexa Voice Remote that has a backlight and a feature that lets users find the product if it gets lost in the couch. It’s launching in November for $35.

· And there’s a new QLED Fire TV physical display, starting at $800, in 65-inch and 75-inch sizes.

Amazon doesn’t disclose revenue from its devices group, but the business is thought to be a relatively small part of the company’s sales, which are mostly fueled by e-commerce orders, third-party seller services and cloud offerings. But the products can help keep customers loyal to the company, and the purchase of one device often spurs the purchase of another.

With the new sleep tracker, users can view reports -- such as how much deep sleep they got -- via an Amazon Echo Show, the company’s speaker with a screen. In 2020, Amazon introduced the Halo Band, an activity tracker that it paired with a subscription wellness service.
Bloomberg
Tags: #Amazon
first published: Sep 29, 2022 12:29 pm