Oct 5, 2021 11 min read

Ambient Computing: Amazon's in the house

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Wiser! #38 (Premium): Amazon has unveiled a clutch of digital smart tech for the home in its pursuit of ambient computing, inc robots, wearables, drones, smartspeakers and AI.


***Premium Content***


Amazon's pursuit to own the "home"

Amazon has just announced a clutch of gadgets, gizmos and new smart tech for the home. Their strategy is to take advantage of the shift to home working and the fact that 82% of American households have an Amazon Prime account.

In the February issue of Wiser! I made this prediction:

Prediction: As more people shift to working from home, expect to see Amazon and Big Tech continue to innovate and move to dominate the home.

Why is Amazon doing this? There are three reasons.

First, Amazon's goal with everything they do is simple. To own the rails.

Which means that everything they do drives users to an Amazon platform.

Second, Amazon wants to dominate "ambient computing". This is where the computer is no longer the primary connection to the Internet. In Alexa and its associated gadgets, Amazon has created a computing platform that is just as important as Windows, macOS, iOS, or Android.

Amazon is on a path to changing the way users do what they've always done in the Internet age. Instead of firing up the laptop and hitting some keys, you open your mouth and speak. "Hey Alexa, order me X, or play Y, or ring Z".

Third, Amazon already owns a considerable footprint in the home tech market;

  • Amazon accounted for 23% of the global sales for smart speakers in the first quarter of 2020, which was more than all its competitors. (Amazon)
  • Amazon's market share for smart speakers in the US was 53% in 2020. (Voicebot)
  • Around 100,000 smart home devices support Amazon's digital voice control agent, Alexa. (Techcrunch)
  • Approximately 11% of digital buyers used Amazon's Alexa for online shopping in 2020. (eMarketeer)

Fun Fact: According to Statista, more than 250,000 marriage proposals have been made to Alexa

At an invite-only product launch held on the 28th of September, Amazon unveiled a clutch of updates and new products for the home. Here's the rundown...


Astro - the friendly home robot on wheels

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Amazon is making a robot for the home. It's a super-cute and loveable Alexa-powered Wall-E called Astro that will eventually sell for $1,449 (day 1 buyers will get it for $999).

The idea is that Astro will follow you around the house like the Jetson's family dog, which was also called Astro. The robot has a touch screen so that you can video chat on the move. And boasts facial recognition so that it will know if it is you carrying the TV out through the patio door (security feature).

The Astro’s biggest selling point is a camera that rises up like a periscope to about waist height. Using the robot’s facial recognition software, Astro can identify the people it knows. Which means that you could tell it to take something like a bottle of water to someone in the living room. The 3 wheeled robot then uses its camera to locate their face and take it to them.

Astro uses the same tech as automated vacuum cleaners to navigate around the house, although it doesn't actually do any cleaning as it goes (which seems like a missed opportunity to tidy up as you go, which is what my mum always taught me to do).

Astro has three primary functions in the home;

  • Home security
  • Monitoring loved ones
  • A mobile version of Alexa wherever you are in the house
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