Amazon.com Inc.’s push to spread its smart assistant Alexa everywhere has received a massive boost at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that starts this week.
The retail and cloud giant announced Alexa tie-ups with manufacturers making washing machines, DVRs and television sets. At the top of the list, Amazon has signed a deal with Chinese manufacturer Tongfang Global, which owns brands such as Seiki, Westinghouse Electronics and Element Electronics. The company will produce a new range of 4K Ultra HD Smart TVs called the Amazon Fire TV Edition that come complete with Alexa.
According to Variety, the Alexa-powered TV sets range in size from 43 to 65 inches and include 3 gigabytes of RAM, 16 GB internal memory for apps, and a remote control that includes a microphone so users don’t have to scream across a room to reach Alexa.
“Smart TVs can be cumbersome and difficult to use,” Tongfang Global Vice President of Marketing Sung Choi said in a statement. The new line of TVs, he said, “represent an elevated customer experience powered by the highest performance processors in the industry, a unique voice-controlled remote control, and Amazon’s cinematic viewing experience.”
Television sets are only the start for Alexa-connected devices as CES, as Amazon also announced deals with DISH, Whirlpool and Lenovo. Satellite TV company DISH will be integrating Alexa into its digital video recorders, allowing users to ask Alexa to schedule shows to be recorded or to change a channel. Whirlpool is including Alexa in a range of washing machines so that customers no longer have to press buttons on a washing machine to wash their clothes but instead can tell Alexa how they want their clothes washed.
One of the most interesting of the partnerships is with computer maker Lenovo, which is launching its own Alexa-powered speakers. They look very much like Amazon’s own Echo speakers, though with some differences including a different range of colors. More important, there’s an option for a Harman Kardon edition that delivers higher-quality sound, something Amazon’s own Echo has been criticized for not providing.
Perhaps catering to millennials, the offerings are all being pitched as being an easier way to interface with products. Amazon Alexa Director Rob Pulciani said that with the DISH partnership, “you no longer have to set down your popcorn to change the channel, or spend time searching for what channel the game is on – just ask Alexa to do it for you.”
The products announced are all said to be available later this year, naturally via Amazon.com.