Amazon's Echo speaker hints at smart home capabilities

By: Abbey Dufoe | April 10, 2015 (Edited July 7, 2017)

Amazon's new speaker, the Amazon Echo, might have some smart home capabilities.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is adding new functions to Echo, allowing it to remotely access and command lights and appliances. The speaker is always on, so waking it up with "Hey Alexa" or "Hey Amazon," much like the "Hey Siri" feature for iPhones lets you give it a command. So, you won't even have to get out of bed to turn off the lights - how convenient!

Echo is a conversational, uncomplicated Bluetooth speaker. You can talk to it, and it will complete tasks for you, much like Apple's Siri. You can even ask it to save things on your Amazon wishlist. It's currently selling for $149 for Prime members and $199 for non-prime members.

The Echo's new features rely on power outlets from Belkin's WeMo unit and Hue light bulbs from Philips, both of which can connect to a home's Wi-Fi network. Amazon said three WeMo products, including a light switch, would work with the Echo, as well as five different Philips light bulbs. The Seattle-based company didn't say whether it would enable other companies' devices to work in tandem with the Echo.

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Written by Abbey Dufoe

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