An Alexa-Powered Life – What Amazon Announced at CES 2020
— Bret Kinsella @ CES (@bretkinsella) January 8, 2020
CES is a non-stop flood of announcements and news and Amazon made sure to add to the deluge. Amazon opened three exhibits showcasing how Alexa is spreading into more devices and hosted a real-time mixology show for media starring Guy Fieri and Shaquille O’Neal among other highlights. Check out the most interesting Alexa news from CES this week.
Alexa in Automobiles
Vehicles were a major theme for voice assistants in general at CES and Alexa headlined several of the major announcements. To begin with, Amazon announced a partnership with Lamborghini and Rivian to integrate Alexa into some of their upcoming models. The Lamborghini Huracan Evo and Rivian R1S and R1T will include Alexa from the factory, as will the 100,000 electric Amazon delivery vans Rivian is building. Amazon offers the Echo Auto device for cars that don’t have Alexa integrated and at CES it revealed that it will start selling the devices internationally. Sales will begin in India on January 15, with other countries to follow later this year. In the U.S., Alexa is gaining a new feature for drivers to use. The voice assistant will start handling paying for gas at 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations.
Alexa at Home
One feature often discussed for voice assistants in cars is how they can control smart home devices. Cars with Alexa are able to do things like turn lights and security systems on or off remotely. Amazon has added a bunch of new devices to the list including music-playing beds and dog treat dispensers. Amazon’s subsidiary Ring debuted six new products and a new control center for seeing and managing new lights and security devices. The customized security system notably allows users to opt-out of sharing data with local police as a privacy measure.
Amazon also revealed some numbers that suggest continued growth in smart home device use. “Alexa smart home engagement has nearly doubled year over year, and customers are now using Alexa for smart home controls hundreds of millions of times each week,” according to a CES-related blog post by Amazon.
Alexa on Your TV
Amazon’s Fire TV already uses Alexa, but it will soon be much more widespread with Amazon’s announcement of partnerships with Samsung and Skyworth to add the voice assistant to the televisions they build. Samsung, which started supporting Alexa as a voice assistant option last year, will now integrate Alexa into its systems. The smart TV will act as a large Echo Show in some regards, offering visual answers and connecting with security cameras. Fire TVs are also coming to cars, with the BMW Fiat Chrysler planning to add Fire TV into its displays. The CES exhibits show how the TVs, lightbulbs, and cars all serve as outlets for Alexa, part of Amazon’s bigger strategy to encourage people to bring Alexa into every part of their lives.
Alexa’s Third-Party Device List Multiplies
Amazon makes a lot of devices for Alexa, but there are plenty of other brands happy to add the voice assistant to their products and many new ones were added during CES. Palo Alto Innovation showed their new Alexa-poweredSandman Doppler, Lutron and Phillips both revealed new smart light bulbs and control systems that can be run by the voice assistant, and the Genie Company and Chamberlain both announced Alex-controlled garage door openers. On the hygiene front, OneLife released the new Alexa-controlled PureOne air purifier, while P&G debuted a new Oral-B electric toothbrush that has Alexa in the charging base to support the Dash Replenishment Service. There were also plenty of new smart speakers and displays relying on Alexa for voice assistant control, including several from Sony as well as the Enki Smart Display by Leroy Merlin, and the introduction of Alexa Skills to Bowers & Wilkins smart speakers.
Alexa-Enabled Devices More Than Doubled in 2019
Amazon also shared some numbers related to Alexa device growth. In January 2019 the company shared that Alexa was on over 100 million devices. That Alexa-enabled device figure is now “hundreds of millions” which suggests the total number at least doubled during 2019. Amazon doesn’t have a billion smartphones in use to serve as instant distribution for Alexa. So, it is important that consumers are buying new Alexa devices to expand the voice assistant’s reach.