Amazon’s big Alexa, Echo, and Ring event might not be until next week, but a number of the surprises future – including a fresh form factor for the company’s smart speaker – may have already got been leaked. With previous years to guide us, Tuesday’s event on September 28 is probably going to be one rapid-fire announcement after the opposite, spanning everything from the smart home to security to automotive tech.
There’s also space for a few oddities. Previous years, as an example, have included a flying Ring camera, with the drone promising to patrol your house in ways a hard and fast security camera couldn’t. Not all of Amazon’s announcements make it to the retailer’s virtual shelves, however: the Ring drone remains conspicuous by its absence.
For 2021’s event, however, we’re expecting another new form of factors. One significant one might be an Echo smart display intended for wall mounting. Bloomberg reports that the 15-inch screen is internally codenamed Hoya and would act as an interface for the owner’s smart home.
That’s something we’ve seen previous Echo Show smart displays do, but Hoya’s bigger panel could leave more information to point out directly. It could even be used as a kitchen video screen to point out Netflix or Amazon Prime Video content or display video recipes. A widget-based UI might be customized to suit a family’s particular needs, showing things like calendar schedules and photos alongside smart home device control for lighting and more.
Elsewhere within the home, Amazon is additionally reportedly preparing its first soundbar for TVs. the present work-in-progress, it’s said, would distinguish itself from rivals – including many with Alexa support built-in – by also adding a camera. that might leave video calls, much within the same way that Echo Show smart displays do now, only using the big-screen TV because of the display.
What’s unlikely to vary in Echo speakers, though, is that the remainder of the present range. That’s Bloomberg’s prediction, at least, envisioning a refresh in 2022. It’s potentially a part of Amazon’s work to shift its Echo hardware onto chips of its design, with an in-house team looking to follow in Apple and Google’s path and make better use of custom silicon. When, though, which may be ready for consumer products remains to be seen, though Amazon already has some custom coprocessors for on-device Alexa voice processing.
Meanwhile, within the car, the Amazon Echo Auto is seemingly getting a refresh. Codenamed Marion, the second-generation device, would – like its predecessor, announced in 2018 – hook up with the car for power and thru its sound system. However, it might also link with a smartphone for media streaming and a knowledge connection for Alexa voice control. Expected to be redesigned, the new Echo Auto 2nd Gen could include a wireless charging pad for the smartphone, too.
Maybe the foremost outlandish new device we’ve heard about Amazon tinkering with before is an Alexa-powered robot. Whispers of that have been circulating since 2018 or maybe earlier, though we’re yet to ascertain any ventilation of the device. That would be because the robot, internally codenamed Vesta, has not been universally popular as a project within Amazon, with some – including former CEO Jeff Bezos – said to possess questioned how useful or viable a sensible display that follows people around the home could be.
Prototypes thus far have included 7-inch and 10-inch displays, with computer vision to map the house and track a user around. The robot could deliver Alexa results and updates on things like calendar appointments; however, since it lacked any arms or other ways to interact physically with the house, it couldn’t be relied upon for chores within the way that, say, a Roomba might combat the vacuuming.
Whether the robot ever launches or not is way from clear, and indeed Amazon has no shortage of announced products that don’t make it to retail. One possibility is that the device might be launched via Amazon’s Build It program, which began in early 2021. that permits customers to back potential “Day 1 Editions” products with preorders, with the proviso that the merchandise only actually goes into production if sufficient people comply with purchase it.