Amazon Developing Alexa Earbuds with Fitness Tracking Features According to CNBC
Amazon is working on wireless earbuds with Alexa built-in and both will also integrate with a fitness-tracker according to a report from CNBC. The earbuds are code-named Puget named after Puget Sound by Amazon’s headquarters in the Seattle area.
Alexa in the Ear
Retailing for $100, the earbuds are expected to be less expensive than its competition, such as the $200 Bose SoundSport or the $160 Apple AirPods. Most important for Amazon, it would provide a way to put Alexa in the foreground and more easily accessible by consumers while on-the-go even if they are using an iPhone or Android phone which bias toward other assistants.
The earbuds’ fitness tracker will reportedly include an accelerometer and other sensors to measure distance and pace, as well as calories burned during exercise. Amazon has worked with other fitness tech companies before, like adding Alexa to a FitBit smartwatch this August, but this will be the first health monitor developed in-house by Amazon. While there’s no release date or official confirmation as of yet, the earbuds may make their first appearance at Amazon’s yearly hardware event tomorrow.
Alexa All Over
There have been several hints that Amazon was working on integrating Alexa into more wearables, such as certifying Syntiant to manufacture computer chips which are specifically designed for wearable integration. Moving into the hearables market is an obvious strategy for the Amazon and its voice assistant. The company does not want to lose out on this fast-growing market. According to a recent IDC report, the market for hearables grew 250% this year, doubling its share to nearly half of the overall wearables market.
Unlike Apple and Google, Amazon does not have a built-in smartphone user base for its voice assistant. It may have the market share lead when it comes to smart speakers, but those are devices that consumers use mostly at home. Amazon needs Alexa to be everywhere, including when consumers are outside the home of office. Alexa in smart devices, its own and others, is also a crucial part of Amazon’s larger strategy.
The Puget earbuds could also offer Amazon a way to proactively connect Alexa with consumers everywhere they go. It’s also easy to imagine the ways Amazon could use the earbuds to increase revenue for its retail and e-commerce businesses. If someone wearing the earbuds makes a voice note about something they may want to buy, the earbuds might offer to add it to the user’s Amazon cart or offer special sales when a wearer walks into Whole Foods. Amazon will likely experiment with anything that might increase Alexa usage.
One of Many Expected Announcements
New earbuds are only one of several devices expected on stage at Amazon’s event this week. Rumors have swirled that a new, high-end Echo smart speaker will come out as competition for premium devices built by rival voice assistant developers. There are also hints of an Alexa robot, a kind of mobile smart speaker, that Amazon has had in development for some time. Whatever the final details of the announcements on Wednesday, Amazon is certain to keep pushing Alexa into people’s lives, including into their ears.