Amazon’s annual device and services event is next week, and if there’s one thing you can expect, it’s a lot of Alexa-enabled gadgets you’re not sure anyone really needed. According to a new Bloomberg report, Amazon is developing a large, wall-mounted Echo, a soundbar with a built-in camera, and new wearables.
Of the devices described in Bloomberg’s report, the large wall Echo sounds like the most plausible. This Echo would have a 15-inch display that can be mounted or placed on a stand. We’ve heard rumors about this particular device before, and the idea is that it would act as a sort of digital command center—Amazon supposedly views it as an ideal device for the kitchen. Not only could you watch videos on it while cooking, but it could also be the central hub for your smart home. Bloomberg also reports that Amazon is making a push toward more Echo devices with displays, because people tend to engage more with display-based devices than audio-0nly speakers.
Amazon may also have a soundbar on deck, though Bloomberg notes that the global chip crunch could affect the product’s shipping timeline. The soundbar would set itself apart from the competition by adding a front-facing camera for video chats and would also let you take calls to your TV. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Facebook’s doing the same thing with its Portal TV device, though that’s more of a webcam than a soundbar. It’s certainly an interesting take on a soundbar, which is a device most people buy because they want better sound than their TV’s native speakers, not because they want to chat on Zoom. However, many soundbars on the market already support digital assistants, so perhaps Amazon’s adding a camera to stand out from the crowd.
Bloomberg also reports that a home robot and an Alexa-powered karaoke mic are in the works, and Amazon is eyeing a larger push into wearables. You might recall Amazon launched its Halo fitness tracker last year. In addition to that tracker, Amazon is reportedly considering making a smartwatch for kids and a separate one for the elderly. The latter would incorporate fall detection, a feature that was first introduced on the Apple Watch and has since made its way to other wearables. This tracks with some other news we’ve heard around Amazon’s health ambitions, including a rumored Alexa device that could potentially detect sleep apnea.
It’s unclear whether we’ll see all of these devices at Amazon’s event next week. Some might end up on the back burner due to unforeseen developmental issues. But it’s worth noting that the group behind some of these products is Lab126—the research and development division behind some of Amazon’s best-known products like the Echo, Alexa, and Kindle. Whatever we do see, it’s clear Amazon’s strategy hasn’t changed a bit: It’s going to pump out as many Alexa-powered devices as possible, and see what sticks.