Gadgets

Amazon Echo now available to anyone

After a seven-month limited release, Amazon is making “Echo” available to the public., a new category of device designed around your voice. Echo was available on an invitation basis to customers who wanted to help shape the device as it evolved.

“The customer response to Amazon Echo has been incredibly positive, and we’ve been working hard to build more as quickly as possible. We are grateful to our early customers for their incredible engagement and for providing us with invaluable feedback to help shape Echo as it evolves—with their help, we’ve been able to add features like Audible, Pandora, home automation, sports scores, calendar, and more,” said Greg Hart, Vice President, Amazon Echo. “We’re excited to get Echo into the hands of even more customers and continue to invent new features and experiences.”

Echo is designed around your voice and is hands-free and always on—ask for information, music, news, traffic, weather, and more from across the room and get results instantly. Echo uses far-field voice recognition with an array of seven microphones to clearly hear you around the room. Advanced beam-forming technology combines the signals from the individual microphones to suppress noise, reverberation, and even competing speech. Echo’s advanced audio design includes dual downward-firing speakers that produce 360˚ omni-directional, room-filling audio.

Alexa—the brain behind Echo—is built in the cloud, so it is always getting smarter. At launch, Echo introduced hands-free voice control for music (Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn), information from Wikipedia and the web, weather, timers and alarms, news, and shopping/to-do lists. Over the last seven months, Alexa has added dozens of new features to expand its skillset, gotten better at answering all types of questions, and improved accuracy and speech recognition.

Echo is designed around your voice and is hands-free and always on—ask it for information, music, news, and weather from across the room and get results or answers instantly. Alexa is the brain behind Amazon Echo—since Alexa is built in the cloud and leverages AWS, it is always getting smarter and adding more functionality.

Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud, where it leverages the power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request. Echo uses far-field voice recognition with an array of seven microphones to clearly hear you around the room. Advanced beam-forming technology combines the signals from the individual microphones to suppress noise, reverberation, and even competing speech. This audio signal is then used by our deep neural networks based speech recognition system trained on a large amount of far-field speech data to recognize your utterance from a distance. Enhanced noise cancellation allows you to wake up the device even when it is playing loud music.

Echo has been fine-tuned to deliver crisp vocals with dynamic bass response. Its dual downward-firing speakers produce 360° omni-directional audio to fill the room with immersive sound. Plus, in addition to streaming music from the cloud, Echo is Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream other popular music services like Spotify and iTunes from your phone or tablet.

Amazon Echo is $179.99 and is available for customers in the US to pre-order today at amazon.com/echo