We are closer to having autonomous homes, with advances in video, compute, and data processing capabilities being added to consumer products. This week marks the general availability of the Amazon Echo Show, which is notable not only for its popularity but also for delivering advanced sensing capabilities to a smart speaker. With a touchscreen, video capabilities, and a host of voice-enabled technology, the Echo Show is an evolution of the smart speaker, and it provides a peek into how our homes are evolving to be more perceptive, responsive and autonomous.
The silicon running the new Amazon Echo Show is the Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor, which delivers a low-power envelope, while also extending the classic product strengths and performance benefits of Intel technology. Some have questioned why Amazon needed this much horsepower. The answer is data. The Echo Show adds far-field voice, camera and display to the speech recognition processing of the original Echo. Smart Home technologies, such as the Echo Show, will traffic in terabytes of data. There’s a lot of engineering involved in getting speech recognition at high degrees of speed and accuracy that deliver the best customer experiences. We worked with Amazon on this project for more than two years, and it required a massive team effort from hundreds of engineers and architects from all levels of Intel. We had great collaboration with Amazon and worked closely on the architecture, engineering and even marketing. Collaboration is not only about bits and bytes, however. Our teams formed a lot of strong relationships and those were key to creating the foundation. As our corporate VP Gregory Bryant put it: “Intel and Amazon share a passion for customer experiences. This product is a reflection of the two companies coming together to drive innovation in the smart home and making these experiences come to life.”
Ease of Use is Key
One of the hurdles to smart home adoption has been the complexity. What happens now is someone orders a bunch of devices or buys some things in a big box store, and they plug them all in at home, and then something goes wrong. Their Wi-Fi isn’t efficient enough to support all the devices across the house, or the devices don’t all work together, or the homeowners can’t figure out how to set the network up, and, ultimately, they aren’t blown away by the potential of the smart home. What the Echo has proven, is that when your devices go beyond answering questions to actually conversing with you and listening and learning your context, then they are proving their value. People are starting to appreciate the benefits from this initial round of speech-enabled products. They like the frictionless interaction through voice, and they are rapidly incorporating devices like the Echo Show into their day-to-day lives. Positive experiences are then encouraging them to take the plunge with other smart home technologies. According to Parks Associates, 53 percent of owners of smart speakers with personal assistants, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, report having a smart home device as well.
It’s Only the Beginning…
With the growth of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing, Smart Home devices will continue to learn and improve and eventually automate many of the tasks of running the home, provide peace of mind and enrich daily life. We’re seeing a lot of improvements in home connectivity, for example, which is absolutely critical to delivering excellent experiences. Foundational technologies transform the home from being merely connected to becoming smart — connectivity, speech, vision and cognition — and will bring about new ways for consumers to interact with technology and the world around them. With increasing speed, these and other innovations needed to power the smart home are within reach, and together with partners like Amazon we’re building the future, today. For more information on connected smart homes, visit intel.com/smarthome. To stay informed about Intel IoT developments, subscribe to our RSS feed for email notifications of blog updates, or visit intel.com/IoT, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.