Despite getting late into the game of voice-controlled virtual assistants with a 2014 launch, Alexa has been able to gain a strong advantage in a market where both Apple and Google were already active for a while. There’s many reasons for Amazon’s success, but the most important one is the ability to make the AI assistant cross the borders of smartphone to become an ubiquitous presence inside our homes. That has been achieved thanks to Amazon’s own line of Echo devices, which were both fairly priced and positively useful for the average consumer, but also thanks to a very lax licensing policy that makes it quite easy for manufactured to implement Alexa into their devices.
CES 2020 is definitely a testament to this strategy. At the Electronics Show in Las Vegas Alexa popped-up inside all sorts of gadgets, even unexpected one.
The prize for the weirdest Alexa implementation would undoubtedly go to Kohler’s Alexa-enabled shower head, which let you command the virtual assistant during your morning ablutions. Weber, the leading brand in barbecue equipment, has launched a new smart hub for grill aficionados that lets you connect up to four temperature probes. The product will be generically Alexa-compatible in the future, but that’s not really clear what it will be useful for (except maybe asking your virtual assistant the cooking grade of ribs and steaks). Amazon itself introduced a series of Ring branded products at CES 2020, such as new garden solar lights and smart led bulbs that will complement your current Alexa-managed smart home setup.
Automotive is another field where Alexa seems to be finding its space. Electric SUV maker Rivian, which is already partnering with Amazon on a fleet of electric delivery trucks, announced a deeper hardware integration of Alexa into its upcoming cars, starting with the Rivian 1T. Alexa will be able to start any smart device from the car, but you could also ask the assistant to pop the trunk or to manage the AC temperature.
A similar set of commands will be available on a supercar as well, Lamborghini’s new Hurácan EVO, later this year.
“The Alexa integration is not just in the car”, says Lamborghini. “Owners are also connected to the devices that work with Alexa and can control them directly from the car with simple voice interaction: from entry gates to thermostats and lights.”
- Amazon Alexa