Everything announced from Amazon’s hardware event

Today, Amazon held its annual fall hardware event. It was jam packed with a bunch of announcements. There were new echo devices along with an Alexa-powered robot. Here are some of the exciting things that were announced today.

Alexa Updates

Let’s start with the updates to Alexa. If you remember last year, Amazon announced Alexa Care Hub, which is a free service that allows you to use Alexa to check in on other family members. It allowed one of your family members to say “Alexa, call for help”, and another family member would be immediately contacted. Today, Amazon is announcing a new feature called Alexa Together. This will be a $20 per month service that gives that aging family member 24/7 access to Urgent Response, which Amazon states is a professional emergency help line.

Other features added included support for third-party devices that can detect if someone has fallen, ability to add contacts to an individual’s Alexa account to enable hands-free calls, and set reminders on someone else’s device. Alexa Together basically makes it easier for a person to assist a family member with managing their Echo device.

Amazon also announced a new privacy feature, which allows US customers to have all their voice commands processed locally on their Alexa device. The audio clips won’t be sent to the cloud and will be automatically deleted after the Alexa device processes them. Amazon came under much scrutiny a few years back, when Amazon admitted that messages were reviewed by the company in order to further enhance the Alexa AI assistant. Perhaps this new feature will ease some privacy concerns that customers have over using Alexa. The new feature will only work with the latest Echo devices that use the AZ1 Neural Edge processor. Amazon says the feature will be available on the 4th-generation Echo and the Echo Show 10.

If you are a Disney fan, Amazon and Disney today announced a new voice assistant called “Hey Disney”. This new Disney assistant will be available on Echo devices and Echo devices located at Walt Disney World hotel rooms. You would be able to interact with characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and more. The new voice assistant will give you access to interactive storytelling experiences, games, and jokes featuring your favorite Disney Characters. In Disney hotels, the voice assistant can act as your personal concierge and answer questions, fulfill requests (such as room service), and more. The “Hey Disney” assistant should available starting in 2022.

Amazon Glow

A very interesting device announced today is the Amazon Glow designed for kids. This teleconferencing device features an 8-inch LCD display with a projector that creates a 19-inch touch-sensitive space. Family members can connect to the device with the accompanying Glow mobile app, allowing them to interact with the projected space remotely. The device will be available to early-access customers in the next few weeks. The device will initially cost $249.99 before it will increase to $299.99.

Amazon Blink and Ring Updates

Amazon also announced a new $50 Blink Video Doorbell. This price point makes it very competitive. The new video doorbell captures at 1080p video and supports Alexa integration (naturally). The new doorbell also gives you a choice of a wired or wireless connection and the option to store video footage on a USB drive instead of on the Amazon cloud. The new video doorbell is available for pre-order today.

In addition to the new Video Doorbell, there is a new $40 Floodlight Camera mount that will shine 700 lumens of LED light into your yard when motion is detected. Finally, there is also a Solar Power Mount in case you don’t want to need to charge your cameras.

Amazon also announced today the Ring Alarm Pro, which is the higher end version of its home security system. This new system is quite interesting, as Amazon paired Ring with Eero (its networking equipment) to produce the Alarm Pro that will include an Eero router inside of it. Ring also now sells battery packs that extend the life of your Alarm system up to 24 hours after a power outage.

To use all this, Ring has a new subscription service called Protect Pro. This package will include cloud video storage, professional monitoring, Alexa Guard Plus, and 24/7 backup internet for all your security devices. This new subscription service will be $20 a month or $200 per year.

Ring also launched a new system called “Virtual Security Guard”, which allows users to connect to third-party security guards. This will be a separate subscription, but this allows a third-party to watch your Ring camera feeds for you, with the operator speaking to whoever the intruder is before alerting authorities.

The Ring Alarm Pro is available for pre-order today at $250.

Halo View

Amazon is apparently also planning to take on Fitbit with their new Halo View. This $80 wearable will feature activity history, live workout tracking, sleep scores, blood oxygen levels, and feature “text and move notifications”. The device will also include a heart rate monitor, skin temperature sensor, and accelerometer. Oh, and it is also swim-proof. Amazon claims the device should last up to 7 days and can be fully charged in under 90 minutes.

If you remembered last year’s Halo, there was a very controversial feature included called Tone. Tone allows the device’s microphone to detect if you sound stressed, angry, happy, or excited during your day. Halo View actually will not have any microphones built in. You can still use Live Mode for Tone, which is an in-app membership feature that is not dependent on the wearable.

There is a subscription service to the band, which will be $4 a month. This will give you additional features such as body composition, activity intensity and scores, movement health guides, and sleep scores and stages. The subscription service will also give access to a new service called Halo Fitness and Nutrition. This feature promises “hundreds” of professional workouts, similar to Apple Fitness+ and Dailyburn. Halo Nutrition will be similar to many other nutrition apps on the market. Halo Nutrition will give you personalized recipe discoveries and meal planning, allowing you to easily add ingredients to your Alexa shopping list.

Amazon Smart Thermostat

In an attempt to clearly take on Google Nest, Amazon announced the Smart Thermostat. This $60 device allows you to control your home’s temperature and use Alexa to setup custom routines for heating and cooling. Amazon didn’t talk much about the device, but it will require a separate Echo device to use. The device will also be compatible with Hunches, a feature that allows the Alexa assistant to act based on your previous actions without the need for a separate command. The Smart Thermostat is available for pre-order now, with a ship date of November 4th.

Amazon Echo Show 15

Amazon’s newest Echo device is the Echo Show 15. This device features a large 15.6-inch 1080p display that can either be wall mounted or placed on a stand. Amazon had to introduce a completely redesigned home screen due to the large display. The home screen can be configured to display headlines or weather updates or anything with various Alexa widgets. Useful widgets include family calendar, shopping list, sticky notes, to-do lists and reminders. There is also a widget for recipe recommendations, restaurant delivery choices, and more.

You can enable picture-in-picture live camera viewing just like you can with current Echo Show devices, and even enable a picture frame mode of photos or art work if you have guests over and don’t want them to see your home screen.

There is a new visual ID feature that will allow the Echo Show 15 to recognize your face, so that each family member in the household will have their own personalized information on the display. One really cool new feature is that you can teach Alexa to recognize sounds. Example, if you left your refrigerator door open and it starts to beep, Alexa can learn to recognize that sound to alert you to close your fridge.

The Echo Show 15 will be available later this year.

Amazon Astro

Amazon saved its best announcement for last. Meet the Amazon Astro. This Alexa-powered robot on wheels will initially cost $1,000 and is basically an Alexa display on wheels. The robot will have a periscope camera so that it can see above floor level and check on things such as stovetops and sleeping pets. You can also program the Astro to patrol your home when you are away. It can detect breaking glass, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms.

You can use the usual Alexa commands on it, and if you like to walk around your home during phone calls, the Astro can follow you around your home during video calls. For people with privacy concerns, the Astro can be put on do not disturb mode to limit its movement during the night or day. You can also set certain zones that the Astro will not be allowed to enter. Amazon plans to launch the Astro later this year starting at $1000.

You can watch the entire Amazon event here:

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