It’s been a busy few weeks in the world of tech. Just recently Apple unveiled the highly anticipated iPhone 11 at its keynote event, causing stirs throughout the media landscape as tech fiends and avid Apple fans rushed to their nearest stores just to get a geez at the new phone and it’s (somewhat harrowing) triple camera design.
Now, it’s Amazon grabbing our attention after its media event held in Seattle saw the tech company unveil a flood of new hardware, including new Alexa devices, new Echo speakers devices, and a lineup of new gadgets to be placed on various parts of the body. Consider our curiosity piqued.
Here are some of the highlights to have come out of the event.
The new Echo Buds are the first hands-free Alexa headphones that include Bose noise-cancelling tech. This can be turned on or off simply by tapping on one of the earpieces. According to Amazon, the Echo Buds have five hours of battery life per charge. Shipping from October, the retail price is estimated at $192.
Continuing the theme of Alexa’s dominance in the realm of tech products, Amazon has now found a way to put Alexa directly onto your face with Echo Frames. These Alexa-enabled smart glasses allow you to talk to Alexa without having to whip out your phone. Amazon are largely unsure how the glasses will fare, so they are being released in limited quantities to start. Should they be a hit, they’ll then ramp up the production. The smart glasses, which have microphones but no camera, go on sale to beta testers this year for $266 a pair.
Amazon has refreshed the look of its new Echo device by merging it with its larger sibling, the Echo Plus. Now featuring the same drivers and 3-inch woofer from the Echo Plus, this speaker is now louder, clearer, and fitted with a more powerful bass response. It also has the fabric cover featured on the Plus, and is available in a blue colour option.
Tailored for 3D audio, the Echo studio has five speakers in-built: midrange speakers for the left, right, and the top, a dedicated tweeter for the highest frequencies, and a 5.25-inch woofer for the lows that sits in a ported enclosure to give it more punch. The Echo Studio supports Dolby Atmos audio and can connect to 4K fire TV Devices to provide the soundtrack to whatever you’re watching.
Alexa’s celebrity voices
And because we all know that the automated voice of Alexa holds nothing in comparison to that gloriously mellifluous tone of Samuel L. Jackson, Amazon is now catering to our ear preferences, too. The tech giant announced that the actor will now serve as an alternative voice option thanks to a major update on the Alexa device that will see a number of movie stars’ voices integrated as options.
Using neural text-to-speech software, Amazon is able to mimic real human voices, including celebrities. But unlike other celebrity voice integration softwares that require pre-recorded phrases, Alexa instead relies on deep learning techniques that make it sound more like a real human.
It’s a smart move from Amazon, and given that back in the day we’d fork out money just for a special ringtone, it makes sense that we’d spend money on choosing a voice that resonates with our very core. For Samuel L. Jackson fans, a more explicit version of his voice will launch later in the year for a “special price” of $0.99 (approx. $1.47) for anyone who purchases it in 2019. After this year, it’ll cost $4.99 (approx. $7.39 AUD).