The Verge – JAM Voice is a budget $70 Amazon Echo

The Verge – There is a new portable wireless speaker that has integrates the Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) so users can listen to music and access the wonders of Alexa. The Verge reports that it requires users to push a button to access Alexa, but it will come at the economical price point of only $69.99. This is another example of a sub $100 voice assistant device for the home that joins the earlier announcement of the sub $50 Echo Dot. In aclear departure from the smartphone segment, manufacturers seem determined to make these devices affordable. The hardware is commodity. The value is in the voice assistant and the world these services open up for users.LINK

The Proliferation of Devices with Voice Assistant Access

We are starting to see more devices with integrated voice assistants. Outside of cars, Amazon has had the most announcements to date (e.g. CoWatch, Onyx, SmarThinQ, Pebble Core, Triby). These devices typically require users to press a button to utilize Alexa so they fail to provide one of the most valuable convenience features of the Amazon Echo family of devices — “always on” listening. This is not surprising as the engineering is not trivial for highly sensitive far-field microphones that are listening for a wake-up word and coordinating voice inputs. Also, the presence of multiple microphones that are more sensitive would surely add to the manufacturing cost which must be a concern at these price points. However, all of these devices show is that voice interaction features are becoming more common and that product manufacturers have found Amazon’s AVS tool a good onramp to provide the added functionality.