Amazon launches Alexa-enabled microwave, clock and more

David Limp, Inc's senior vice president of devices & services, s
David Limp, Inc's senior vice president of devices & services, speaks at company headquarters in Seattle on Sept. 20, 2018. Copyright Jeffrey Dastin Reuters
By Didi Martinez with NBC News Tech and Science News
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The event marked the most significant move yet by Amazon to become an industry leader in smart-home technology.


Alexa, make some popcorn.

Amazon on Thursday launched a range of new products aimed at integrating itsAlexa voice-enabled assistant into people's everyday lives, including a microwave, wall clock and car device.

The event, held at the company's headquarters in Seattle, marked the most significant move yet by Amazon to become an industry leader in smart-home technology. The company said it unveiled more than 70 new devices, features and developer tools.

"We want you to have access to Alexa everywhere—in your kitchen, in your living room, in your office, and now in your car or truck," said Tom Taylor, senior vice president of Amazon Alexa, in a press release.

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Amazon revealed 14 devices, including updated versions of the Echo Dot and Echo Show. In addition to the microwave and clock, Amazon introduced the Amazon Smart Plug and Alexa Connect Kit, which allows other companies to build products that can be integrated into the company's system.

Amazon also announced a series of new home security features that will be added to some existing Alexa-enabled products. Of those new features, Alexa Guardallows users to say "Alexa, I'm leaving" to activate a system that will alert users if their connected devices detect events like glass breaking or the presence of smoke. The features will be available on some Echo devices later in the year and integrate into alarm systems from ADT and Amazon's own security system, the company said.

Amazon rolled out a variety of other convenience features for Alexa including location-based reminders, cooking instructions, email integration and "whisper mode," which allows users to quietly speak to Alexa and receive a similarly muted response.

Amazon kickstarted the smart home arms race in November 2014 when it launched the first Echo, an internet-connected speaker that could be activated by voice. Since then, a variety of other tech companies including Apple and Google have rolled out similar products.

According to a new report by Strategy Analytics, Amazon's Echo Dot is currently the second best-selling smart speaker in the world, trailing just behind Google's Home Mini.

While most of the new products were geared toward homes, Amazon also announced Echo Auto, bringing Alexa to people's cars. The small device can be plugged into a car's power outlet and connects through the Alexa smartphone app, providing people with a variety of features including music, navigation and calling.

Amazon also said they are teaming up with various automakers, including Volkswagen and BMW, to build Alexa into their vehicles.

The microwave, which Amazon is selling for $59.99, was the star of the show, garnering no shortage of Twitter reaction.

And it only took a matter of seconds for attendees to begin to weigh in on whether they will be getting the new home products.

"Oh god I'm going buy a smart microwave," tweeted Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge.

Others began to tweet their thoughts about what all these built-for-home products mean for the company.

"Amazon making a lot of cheap essentials - microwave, clock - Alexa-enabled," tweeted the BBC's Silicon Valley reporter, Dave Lee. "Very smart to get into people's homes. The Trojan assistant."

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