Word is Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) will add yet another flavor of Alexa smart displays to its line-up.
Bloomberg reports that Amazon will soon announce a 13-inch display with Alexa. No big deal. There’s plenty of Echo products at various price points. The difference this time? This Alexa device will be wall-mountable.
I think this makes a lot of sense.
Homes today are increasingly a smorgasbord of smart devices. From lighting and smart plugs to always connected devices and hubs our homes are, indeed, becoming quite smart. Controlling all it though is proving to be confusing. Most of us probably employ a combination of switches and apps. So if you want to set the kitchen scene for cooking dinner you might tap a Philips Hue scene, or maybe you just tell Alexa to turn on the kitchen lights and it runs a preset routine you previously created.
Bringing all this together in a wall mounted controller with Alexa built-in and easy to use visual controls could help reduce the challenge of managing today’s smart home.
On many occasions I’ve stumbled upon a forum user who has shared their DIY version of a wall-mounted smart home controller. Typically these projects are based around an Android tablet or an iPad. From there the device is installed into a bracket and hardwired to existing power wiring. Then an app is used to turn the tablet into a veritable in-wall smart home controller. These types of DIY efforts can produce decent results. However, for most of us, the concept and work associated with getting something like this done is just too much… well, just too much work. If Amazon offers out-of-the-box solution that is easy to install then there could be a huge market opportunity for those of us who would otherwise not be inclined to go the geek DIY mode.
In any case, Bloomberg says the the large touchscreen version of Alexa will be developed by the Lab126 hardware division and be akin to a “digital command center”:
“… showing users upcoming calendar events, controlling accessories like lights and locks, and playing music and video. It would include Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and microphones and a camera for video conferencing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.”
Look for the new range of in-wall Echo devices to launch later this year or in 2022. Prices are expected to range from $200-250 USD.
It will be interesting to see if consumers react positively to the idea of in-wall touchscreen controllers. Will we prefer them over a traditional switch, or using an app already on our phone in our hand?
And will we see others chase the smart home with an increasing array of products?
Google and Apple are just two of the majors that we should expect to see answer any competitive threat in this space from Amazon.