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Amazon Unveils New Virtual Assistant Devices: Tap & Echo Dot

Amazon.com has just introduced two additional voice-enabled hardware devices to complement its flagship Amazon Echo. With the expansion Amazon is more explicitly angling to be a player in the voice search/virtual assistant world as well as in the “smart home.”

The device pictured above is the Echo Dot. Cheaper than Echo, it can do a range of things using voice commands and is intended to be a controller for the connected home:

  • Uses the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, read the news, set alarms, control smart home devices, and more using just your voice
  • Connects speakers over Bluetooth or with the included audio cable to play music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
  • Includes a built-in speaker so it can work on its own as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom, an assistant in the kitchen, or anywhere you might want a voice-controlled computer
  • Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
  • Controls smart home devices like lights, switches, thermostats, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, ecobee, and others

The other new product introduced today is the portable Amazon Tap speaker. It’s like a portable version of Echo, which can do many of the same things as the Dot but isn’t a smart-home controller.

Amazon Tap, as the name suggests, must be “tapped” (a la Siri) to activate its voice command features. Both new devices tap into the same cloud-based voice processing system and virtual assistant (“Alexa”) that powers Amazon Echo.

Amazon’s Fire Phone fell flat but Echo and virtual Assistant Alexa have been a surprise hit, hence the new devices. Among a host of other functions, users can conduct transactions and do local searches using Alexa.

Many people are operating under the assumption that search and mobile search will remain essentially as they are into the foreseeable future. However new hardware and interfaces, as well as the rise of Virtual Assistants could dramatically alter the search experience.

How AI, virtual assistants and new UXs will impact search and local search in particular is the question we’ll be examining at LSA16 in the panel:

Virtual Assistants and A.I. Will Change Search – Forever
The ways consumers interact with “search” is changing. The rise of voice UIs, predictive search, virtual assistants and artificial intelligence will forever change how we interact with devices and what they do for us – with all kinds of concrete marketing implications.

Mark Slater
Pingup

Manpreet Singh
TalkLocal

Kelly Thomas
Microsoft

Timothy Tuttle
MindMeld

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