Amazon held an invite-only event today to introduce a batch of new connected devices to its smart home ecosystem, and we’re here to share the deets. The company announced the Halo Rise, a device that sits on your nightstand and helps track your sleep, plus a family of new Echo smart speakers. The Eero mesh wifi networking system also received a bit of a bump with new capabilities. And there’s another way to bring Alexa into your car now.
The Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock are the next-generation versions of their predecessors. They’ve been updated with a new audio architecture, which includes a full-range driver and what Amazon calls “the highest excursion speaker” of any of its Echo Dot devices. The company promises clear vocals and “up to double the bass” over the previous gen of devices. Unfortunately, there are no clear stats on driver size or the like yet.
The Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock also have new processors and sensors for Alexa to perform contextual commands. That’s all part of Amazon’s idea of ambient computing, and it’ll be interesting to see it in action. The company says you’ll be able to set up actions that turn on a connected gadget when the Echo Dot senses you’ve entered a room. There’s also an accelerometer in the Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock that enables gesture controls, and the Echo Dot with Clock has high-density LED “dots” so you can peek at things like calendar events and the weather from afar, even in direct sunlight.
The Echo Dot is available for $50 and comes in three colors: deep-sea blue, charcoal, and glacier white. The Echo Dot with Clock is $60 and comes in two colors: cloud blue and glacier white. The devices are all available for pre-order now and will start shipping next month.
Kids are also getting two new Echo Dot Kids designs. The $60 device now comes in owl and dragon looks and will have different Alexa voices to help match their faces. The idea is to make Alexa more palatable to your kids, so they start relying on the ecosystem to start their day. Each Echo Dot Kids comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, which offers access to kid-centric content.
This new ability is exciting enough that it warrants its own little call-out. The Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock will feature Eero’s mesh wifi networking hardware, meaning they can serve as wireless extenders in your home network. The 4th-gen Echo standup speaker will also receive the capability. It’s called Eero Built-in, and it goes live on Oct. 20 to the aforementioned devices as an over-the-air update. It’s unclear if this is related to Amazon’s Sidewalk technology, which the company uses in its Echo Show devices to serve as a mesh extender for its internal network.
The Halo Rise is a new product altogether. It belongs to Amazon’s Halo family of wellness-centric devices, though you can’t wear it. Instead, the Halo Rise sits on your nightstand and works as a sunrise alarm clock.
Halo Rise can read various information about your room to help optimize your snoozing environment. It detects ambient light and humidity levels. And it uses location data to sense the outside world and how it might affect your slumber. It uses no-contact sensor technology and machine learning to track your movements and how you slept through the night. Amazon says it validated its sleep algorithm with sleep clinics to ensure accuracy.
The Halo Rise is quite pricey, however. It’s $140, and we’re not sure when it’s arriving. Amazon only said that it’s coming soon.
Need bass? That’s the point of the Echo Studio, which isn’t getting a huge upgrade though it is available in a new color now. Amazon said it tweaked the software inside the device to help enhance its existing spatial audio processing technology. However, there’s no specific date on when this update will roll out to existing Amazon Echo Studio hardware. If you want to buy a new one, the Echo Studio costs $200.
If you’re keen on using Alexa in the car, Amazon also announced the second-generation Echo Auto, a tiny dongle you can connect via Bluetooth or AUX to enable hands-free control.
The Echo Auto is much smaller than the previous generation. The device utilizes five microphones to hear you while you’re on the road. You can use it to control music in your car—then continue the jam session when you enter the home with more Alexa devices—and you can also use it to call for roadside assistance. If you use roadside assistance, Amazon will connect you to an agent to wrangle help for you. And you don’t pay for anything unless you use a service, like a tow-truck or a tank of gas. The dongle costs $55.