E-commerce giant Amazon launches a rolling robot called Astro, as well as a slew of new devices for the home including a Blink Doorbell and Echo Show 15
E-commerce giant Amazon is expanding its device portfolio, with one of the most notable items being a roving home robot called Astro.
But Amazon also revealed a slew of other new devices as well, including a new Blink Doorbell (rival to Amazon’s Ring doorbell); Amazon Echo Show (a screen that hangs on the wall); Amazon Smart Themostat (rival to Google Nest Themostat); Halo View fitness devices (Fitbit rival); and Amazon Glow (an interactive video chat portal device for kids).
Amazon also announced a deal with Walt Disney, that will see it provide its voice controlled digital assistant technology for the Walt Disney World Resorts.
First off lets start with Astro, which is moving robot designed to wheel itself around a user’s home, or keep an eye on intruders, or even keep children occupied.
Amazon says that Astro is a new and different kind of robot, and brings together new advancements in artificial intelligence, computer vision, sensor technology, and voice and edge computing in a package that’s designed to be helpful and convenient.
The Astro robot has digital eyes on a rotating screen mounted on wheels, namely two primary wheels for motion and a third, smaller wheel at the back to help with navigation around the house at a speed on one metre per second.
A periscope camera rises out of Astro’s head to take a good look at things above floor level, such as what foods and spices are on a person’s kitchen shelves for example.
Astro is also equipped with Alexa, so the robot can follow the user from room to room while playing their favourite shows, podcasts, or music. It can also find a user in a house in order to deliver reminders, let them know that a timer went off, take a family photo, and notify the user of incoming Alexa calls.
People can request an invite to buy it as part of Amazon’s Day 1 Edition program. It will cost $999.99 (introductory price) and will ship to selected customers later this year.
Next up is Amazon’s Blink Video Doorbell.
With prices starting at just $49.99, it seems to be a rival to Amazon’s more expensive and very popular Ring Doorbell unit.
A free 30-day trial of the Blink Subscription Plan is included with purchase.
Additional Blink home security devices are also now being offered including a Blink Floodlight Camera ($39.99) and Blink Solar Panel Mount bundled with Blink Outdoor ($129).
So what do people get with the Blink Doorbell?
Well it includes the usual features such as features long-lasting battery life, wired or wire-free install, HD 1080p day and night video, two-way audio, and chime app alerts to a person’s smartphone.
“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, COO at Blink.
“Blink Video Doorbell is designed for every home – it comes packed with helpful smart security features like customised motion detection zones to monitor the areas that matter most to you and your family,” said Harris. “With the addition of a video doorbell to Blink’s smart security camera line up – 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.”
Amazon Echo Show
The Amazon Echo Show 15 meanwhile is an entirely new Echo Show with a 15.6-inch display that can be mounted on a wall or placed on a kitchen counter (portrait or landscape).
It is being touted as a home portal, offering a customisable home screen with Alexa widgets, that can reveal a shared calendar, manage shopping and to-do lists, find meal inspirations, or even play HD Netflix or Prime Video.
“Today, families juggle multiple competing priorities – what time to drop the kids off at soccer practice, what to make for dinner, or when to schedule the next appointment – the list goes on and on. With Echo Show 15, Alexa can help,” said Tom Taylor, senior VP at Amazon Alexa.
“Echo Show 15 brings everything that makes your household tick into one place,” said Taylor. “With a redesigned home screen and Alexa widgets, you can customize Echo Show 15 to see your shared family calendar, manage to-do lists and reminders, find meal inspiration, and keep track of your incoming packages. Plus, Echo Show 15 can adapt to your home environment with full-screen photos or art, so it’s always there when you need it, but fades beautifully into the background when you don’t.”
Echo Show 15 will be available for $249.99.
Other arrivals announced Amazon and Disney announcing ‘Hey, Disney!’, an entirely new kind of voice assistant that will work alongside Alexa at home and across Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms in 2022.
Amazon has added new additions to the Halo portfolio: Halo View, a new health tracker with an AMOLED colour display for at-a-glance access to Halo health metrics; Halo Fitness, a new service with hundreds of workout classes; and Halo Nutrition, to help build healthy eating habits.
And finally Amazon also announced Amazon Glow, a gadget for children playing games, reading or drawing while on a video call.