Amazon launches Astro home robot, new Alexa and Ring products at virtual event


Amazon (AMZN) hosted a virtual version of its annual hardware and services event on Tuesday, rolling out a host of new products ranging from Alexa-powered Echo devices to the company’s Ring-line security products.

Amazon’s senior vice president of services and devices, David Limp, kicked off the event by outlining the company’s plans for its use of ambient intelligence, or AI-powered devices that can include what you want, when. The company’s new AZ2 processor is at the heart of this experiment.

The company also says it is focusing on privacy, with the announcement that users will now be able to have their AZ1 and AZ2-equipped devices handle voice requests on the system, so that no one outside your house cannot know what you are saying to your smart gadgets.

Amazon’s Astro home robot will launch this year for $ 999. (Photo: Amazon)

Amazon’s astro robot

The biggest announcement on the show was Amazon’s new Astro. A pint-sized robot that can automatically roll around your home, Astro has built-in sensors to help it navigate your home, as well as a periscope camera that pops up and lets you do things like chat video with family and friends, or use it as a security bot. The camera can also pop out of its body, to see things like counters and check the oven to make sure it’s turned off.

When you use Astro as a remote video platform, its built-in screen will act as a monitor and the robot will follow you around your house so you can continue the conversation if you need to do things like change the laundry. Naturally, Astro will also include all of the same features as Alexa, including the ability to listen to music, check your schedule, and more.

Astro can also be used to monitor your home as a security robot.  (Photo: Amazon)

Astro can also be used to monitor your home as a security robot. (Photo: Amazon)

To make sure Astro doesn’t crash into your couch and sit for hours on end, Amazon has equipped the robot with home mapping technology to allow it to determine where all your furniture is.

Astro will be part of Amazon’s Day One program, so you’ll need to register for the option to purchase the robot. And it’s not cheap at $ 999 either. Additionally, Amazon says Astro is just the first of many bots it has planned for the future, which means there will certainly be more advanced versions in the future.

Echo and Alexa

In addition to Astro, Amazon has launched a number of new Echo and Alexa items, including its new smart thermostat. Energy Star certified connected thermostat that works with Alexa, the smart thermostat is the result of a partnership with Honeywell Homes (HON), which is expected to allow the thermostat to work with most existing HVAC systems.

Available for just $ 59, the smart thermostat adjusts the temperature whether you’re at home or on the go, and can be set remotely to suit your preferences. Amazon’s Smart Thermostat easily slashes the price of Google’s Nest Thermostat, which starts at $ 129, though it’s not as design-wise.

The company also unveiled its new Echo Show 15. Available later this year for $ 249, the Echo Show 15 is designed to be a new digital centerpiece in your home. Sporting a 15.6-inch screen, the Show 15 can be wall-mounted or mounted on a stand in portrait or landscape mode. A giant version of the Echo Show, the Echo Show 15 is a kind of family organizer and doubles as a kitchen TV. It can display your calendar, photo collages, shopping lists, to-do lists, weather, etc.

The Echo Show 15 can be wall mounted or used via a stand as a kind of interactive family hub.  (Photo: Amazon)

The Echo Show 15 can be wall mounted or used via a stand as a kind of interactive family hub. (Photo: Amazon)

Any family member can add calendar events and leave sticky notes through Alexa voice assistance. There is also a widget that can give you an overview of all your connected devices and allows you to control them directly from Show 15. In addition, the screen can also be used to broadcast your stream from your Ring video doorbell.

Amazon says Sling TV will arrive on all Echo Show devices, including Show 15, later this year. And if you want it to be less intrusive, you can turn the Show 15 into a large digital photo frame.

In a similar vein, Amazon announced its new Amazon Glow for $ 249, a collaborative and interactive device designed to help families stay in touch with younger ones. Using a 19 inch touch area and 8 inch screen, users can play games with kids from their tablet and make it appear on the projected area.

The idea is to allow family members who live far away to play with their children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews. The company says it has partnered with Disney, Mattel, Sesame Workshop, and Nickelodeon to create things like animated story books and puzzles.

Amazon Glow is intended to provide parents who live far from their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews a way to chat and play with them at a distance.  (Photo: Amazon)

Amazon Glow is intended to provide parents who live far from their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews a way to chat and play with them at a distance. (Photo: Amazon)

Parental controls allow kids to call only people that parents have allowed access to, and there’s a physical camera shutter that lets you mute the camera completely.

On the fitness front, Amazon has launched a new version of its Halo fitness band. Called Halo View, the tracker sports a display similar to Fitbit’s own bands. Starting at $ 79, the group includes a subscription to Amazon’s Halo service, which offers features like sleep tracking, body composition measurement, and tone of voice monitoring.

The company announced that it will also be rolling out its own Halo Fitness app with workouts and Halo Nutrition, which aims to help users develop healthier eating habits. Amazon, however, has fierce competition in the likes of Fitbit and Apple, both of which have their own fitness offerings and apps.

Ring and security

Amazon’s Ring has also received updates, with the company announcing more information about its Ring Always Home Cam, a standalone camera that flies around your home and can monitor sounds and other security alerts from your other devices. Ring security. You can also configure the drone to monitor specific parts of your home.

When you’re not using the Home Cam, it sits in a charging station, which doubles as a camera cover. Amazon says you can sign up to buy the Home Cam now, and if you’re approved, it’ll cost $ 249.

Ring's home drone will be available for $ 249.  (Photo: Amazon)

Ring’s home drone will be available for $ 249. (Photo: Amazon)

In addition to the drone, Amazon has announced its new Ring Alarm Pro, a professionally monitored security system with built-in Wifi 6 router that starts at $ 249. There is also a new Ring Virtual Security Guard, which allows certain third-party surveillance services to check the cameras of your choice to keep your home safe when you are sleeping or away from your smartphone.

Amazon will work with Rapid Response as the premier monitoring service and add options in the future. Early Access customers will receive free monitoring for a limited time. After that, the price will be $ 99 per month per monitored location.

Amazon’s hardware products are part of its strategy to not only keep existing customers hooked on its Prime subscription service, but also to attract new customers. And with gadgets like Astro and the Ring Always Home Cam, he should be able to continue doing that with ease.

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