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Amazon’s Alexa For Business Eyes The Enterprise Market

December 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Much as smartphones did in the late 2000s,voice-activated A.I. assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant appear ready to migrate from homes into the workplace. That’s the the idea behind this month’s launch of Alexa for Business by Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services.

The virtual assistant, unveiled at the company’s Re:Invent conference, is aimed at automating and simplifying a variety of tedious office tasks. It allows users to check calendars, reorder supplies, set up meetings and kick off video conference calls using voice commands directed at its Echo devices.

Amazon is not the first to target its intelligent assistant for workplace uses. Cisco, for example, announced its Spark Assistant last month; it’s designed specifically to take some of the pain out of organizing video conferences.  Microsoft, meanwhile, has integrated Cortana with its Office 365 applications.

All of those moves serve to highlight the emergence of natural language processing and voice recognition and the potential for a new way of interacting with workplace software.

“Voice will very much have a big part to play in how we collaborate and work over the next 10  years,” said IDC research director Wayne Kurtzman. “The Alexa and Cisco announcements are both key indicators of that.”

There are already tens of thousands of Alexa skills available to consumer users that are now accessible with Alexa for Business; beyond that, Amazon expects companies will start to build their own skills for internal purposes.

Capital One, for example, has built a skill that enables IT staff to quickly check the status of corporate systems and receive updates on high-severity incidents.

Another user, WeWork, has placed Amazon Echo devices around offices at its headquarters as part of a pilot project. The WeWork set-up, touted by Amazon. allows employees to reserve meetings rooms, start meetings and file help-desk tickets.

A range of companies, including Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ring Central and ServiceNow are also integrating their applications with Alexa for Business. Users can also access corporate applications through their home devices, in effect giving them the ability to ask Alexa what important meetings are lined up on a given day, and make changes to personal work schedule.

All of those moves serve to highlight the emergence of natural language processing and voice recognition and the potential for a new way of interacting with workplace software.

“Voice will very much have a big part to play in how we collaborate and work over the next 10  years,” said IDC research director Wayne Kurtzman. “The Alexa and Cisco announcements are both key indicators of that.”

There are already tens of thousands of Alexa skills available to consumer users that are now accessible with Alexa for Business; beyond that, Amazon expects companies will start to build their own skills for internal purposes.

Capital One, for example, has built a skill that enables IT staff to quickly check the status of corporate systems and receive updates on high-severity incidents.

Another user, WeWork, has placed Amazon Echo devices around offices at its headquarters as part of a pilot project. The WeWork set-up, touted by Amazon. allows employees to reserve meetings rooms, start meetings and file help-desk tickets.

A range of companies, including Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, Concur, Ring Central and ServiceNow are also integrating their applications with Alexa for Business. Users can also access corporate applications through their home devices, in effect giving them the ability to ask Alexa what important meetings are lined up on a given day, and make changes to personal work schedule.

Republic Wireless Building It’s Own Smart Speaker System

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Phone calls are still new features for both the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers, both of which focused on music and house controls before adding calling.

Wireless carrier Republic Wireless announced plans to take the opposite approach, saying it will enter the space with a speaker that appears to be all about phone calls.

The Anywhere HQ is the company’s first hardware product. It’s an LTE-connected speaker that can be used to make calls, as well as issue commands.

Like “Alexa” on Echo and “OK Google” on Google Home, Anywhere HQ will require customers to use a start phrase — something like “OK Republic” — before it will make a call.

The speaker itself has volume and mute controls on top and a full number pad underneath.

Republic, a mobile virtual network operator that runs on Sprint, T-Mobile and Wi-Fi, said the speaker also has a built-in smart assistant and works with a customer’s phone number.

Anywhere HQ is part of Republic Wireless’ Labs program, where it’s being tested. Pricing and availability aren’t yet available, and the fine print on the announcement says that it can’t be sold until it obtains authorization from the Federal Communications Commission.

Republic Wireless didn’t immediately return a request for comment about further details.

Apple Delays Launch of HomePod Smart Speaker

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc has delayed the launch of its HomePod smart speaker, pushing it to early next year from December, the company said, missing the holiday shopping season as the market for such devices becomes increasingly competitive.

“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod … but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the U.S., UK and Australia in early 2018,” an Apple spokeswoman said via email.

 Apple introduced the voice-controlled HomePod in June. The speaker, which can make music suggestions and adjust home temperatures, takes aim at Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa feature and Echo devices.

Apple has forecast between $84 billion and $87 billion in revenue for the holiday – mostly driven by sales of its $999 iPhone X – so it’s unlikely that missing a few weeks of sales of its $349 speaker will affect its financial results, Bob O‘Donnell, founder of Technalysis Research, said.

People use voice assistants more often on smart speakers than on phones, so even if owners of Amazon or Google speakers also have an iPhone, there’s a good chance that they’re talking to Alexa or Google Assistant as much or more than Siri.

“Last holiday season, smart speakers were huge, and this season they’re going to be huge,” O‘Donnell said. With Apple’s delay, “there will now be some people who make a different choice. The market’s getting more and more competitive.”

Apple is also counting on HomePod to boost subscriptions to Apple Music and block the rise of rival Spotify. Smart speakers from Google and Amazon let users give voice commands to play Spotify, but Apple Music does not work on the rival devices.

Apple’s main pitch for its HomePod smart speakers was superior audio quality, but that advantage appears to be slipping: Sonos, which also pitches its speakers’ audio quality for music lovers, now features support for the Alexa voice assistant.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced the Echo Plus, a smart speaker with better audio quality, and Google confirmed to Reuters that its Home Max speaker with improved speakers will ship in December, though it has not given a specific date.

 But Apple could still have a surprise or two in store. The company gave scant details about its speaker in June, leaving it room to announce exclusive music content or other unexpected features, said Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner.

“When HomePod comes out, you’ll probably hear some great content from artists that are familiar and popular, and there’s probably going to be some other special aspects as well,” he said.

Amazon Echo Users Lean Towards Apple, Study Says

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

What does your choice of smart speaker reveal about your other preferences?

If you choose a Google Home speaker, does that mean you drift Android-ward? And what if you bought an Amazon Echo?

Well, let me tell you. I have just been made smarter by a piece of research from securities intelligence consultancy Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

It chatted with 300 Amazon Echo and Google Homeowners between July 11 and 27.

It concluded that those who own an Echo — which reminds me of the result of an ill-starred relationship between an air-purifier and a lipstick — have a penchant for Cupertino.

Of those surveyed, 55 percent of Echo users have an iPhone. The remainder have Android. Conversely, 75 percent of those who bought the oversized salt cellar known as Google Home are committed to Android phones.

Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP, insisted in a press release that the proportion of iPhone owners among Echo users was higher than the phone’s share of the US market. That stands at roughly 34 percent.

As for the proportion of Android users among Homeowners, that was merely consistent with Android’s share of the US phone market, he said. (Numbers vary as to how big Android’s share is. Some place it at around the 55 percent mark.)

Lowitz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

When it comes to tablets, Echo owners also skew toward Apple, says the research. 49 percent have an iPad, while 25 percent own an Amazon Fire tablet.

Google Assistant Can Now Control Your LG Appliances

September 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

LG is urging you to communicate with your appliances. You are now officially able to use the Google Assistant to command 87 different Wi-Fi connected LG appliances — including washers, dryers, refrigerators and even vacuums. To mark the occasion, LG’s also giving away a free Google Home smart speaker if you buy a Wi-Fi enabled LG appliance from participating retailers between October 8 and 25.

Give a voice command to the Google Home, or any phone with the Google Assistant built-in, and you’ll be able to check on the status of your washer, turn off your oven, change the temperature of your air conditioner, change the settings of your fridge and more.

LG’s smart suite of appliances already worked with Amazon’s assistant Alexa, and smart appliances from other companies such as Whirlpool and GE have also added functionality for both Alexa and the Google Assistant. LG’s bringing voice controls to a wider variety of appliances than its competitors for now, and hopefully, the available voice commands will be intuitive and offer enough options to be useful.

You can control your smart LG appliances with the Google Assistant now. You’ll need to link your Google account with your LG SmartThinQ account to get started. If you don’t have a smart LG appliance, you might want to wait until October 8 to purchase a new one so you can get a $130 (£130, AU$199) Google Home for free along with your purchase. Head to LG’s site to see if a retailer near you is participating in the promo.

Google Assistant Comes To Bose Premium Headphones

September 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Last month Bose accidentally leaked shots in a newsletter of what appeared to be a new version of its top noise-canceling headphone, the QuietComfort 35. The tip-off was an extra button on the headphones that tech sleuths speculated had something to do with a possible voice assistant.

Now Bose has officially announced the not-so-secret QuietComfort 35 II or QC35 II and told us that the new “Action” button on the left ear cup allows you to connect to your Google Assistant without “having to grab your phone, unlock it, and find the app.” And that wasn’t the only Bose news of the day: It also introduced the SoundSport Free, a set of totally wireless Apple AirPods competitors.

Aside from that new button on the QC35 II, nothing has changed, Bose says. The price is still $350 (£330, AU$500). The headphone sounds the same as its predecessor, has the same noise canceling and battery performance (up to 20 hours) and the same controls on the right ear cup — audio volume and the multi-function button for incoming calls and accessing Siri.

Google Assistant is available for Android and iOS devices and is similar to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Instead of talking to your phone to access Google Assistant, you just press and hold the Action button on the QC35 II and issue commands. The QC35 II’s advanced microphone system “picks up voices with remarkable accuracy, so commands are understood,” Bose says. And the headphone’s noise cancellation “dramatically reduces sound around you,” making the Google Assistant experience more personal and immersive.

Tomer Amarilio, product manager for Google Assistant, posted a blog about the first headphones that are “optimized for the Assistant” where he details some of Google Assistant’s potential uses with the QC35 II. Presumably, other Assistant-optimized headphones are in the works.

The Bose QC35 II is available now in black and silver. Bose notes that the QC35 II’s Action button will access the Google Assistant only in markets where Google Assistant is available. In other markets, the Action button will control noise settings only.

Samsung Aims For Foldable Smartphone In 2018

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung is making plans to launch a foldable phone in 2018, says Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics.

As reported by the Associated Press, Koh told Korean reporters that once the company surmounted “some problems,” it would launch the product. He did not say what the problems were.

Samsung has been experimenting with foldable displays for a while now. The company first showcased a flexible phone display prototype in 2013. Before that, Samsung was making flexible displays, sans phone, way back in 2011.

Koh also confirmed that the company is working with auto-systems maker Harman on a smart speaker. Samsung acquired Harman, based in Stamford, Connecticut, in 2016. No further details about the smart speaker were revealed on Tuesday.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alexa Comes To Toshiba TVs

September 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

“Alexa, rewind.”

That’s just one of the commands that you’ll be able give to a new range of Toshiba TVs announced at IFA in Berlin on Thursday. Amazon’s voice assistant will enable hands-free control of the televisions, provided you have an Echo or Echo Dot smart home hub within hollering distance.

Ranging in size from 43 to 75 inches, the TVs can be commanded to turn on and off, change channel or input, fast forward and rewind or adjust the volume. The hope is that it will simplify controlling your TV, but don’t throw your remote away just yet.

Toshiba is not the first TV manufacturer to integrate Alexa voice control. Element, Westinghouse and Sony currently offer Alexa-compatible televisions in the US. Meanwhile, adding a Fire TV Stick or box to any TV will also enable some Alexa control, as will the Wi-Fi versions of the Logitech Harmony universal remote. And Amazon’s open API (application program interface) effectively means that any other manufacturer can add similar features going forward.

With voice control increasingly prevalent in TVs, manufacturers must also make sure they are fighting hard across all fronts to earn that highly prized spot in your lounge. Toshiba’s Alexa-equipped TVs also come with 4K screen technology to allow viewers to enjoy the very best viewing experience, as well as upscaling tech to make the best of lower resolution content.

Toshiba’s Alexa TV range will be available toward the end of 2017 with prices starting at 399 euros ($474).

Non-Premium Spotify Users Can Now Stream On Google Home

August 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Spotify unveiled a nice suprise for those who use the music-streaming service for free.

Starting now, free users will be able to enjoy and control music through a Google Home device, just as premium subscribers have been able to do since the launch of the home hub, Spotify said Friday.

The news could nudge some free Spotify users toward investing in one of Google’s home hubs if they haven’t already. Especially if they’re trying to decide between Google Home and the rival Amazon Echo, which can still be used only by Spotify Premium subscribers.

Access through Home will be available to free Spotify users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany.

“We are incredibly excited that, from today, millions of Spotify’s free users will be able to enjoy Spotify in their homes through voice-activated speakers for the very first time, thanks to the Assistant on Google Home,” Mikael Ericsson, Spotify’s product director for platform and partner experience, said in a statement.

Using a voice-activated smart home hub with a speaker lets you simply tell the device what you want to hear, freeing you from having to search for tunes on your phone.

With a properly configured Spotify-Home setup, you can get your music going by using commands like “OK, Google, play Spotify,” “OK, Google, play Discover Weekly” and “OK, Google, play my Taylor Swift playlist.”

After that, you just have to hope no one in the room objects to your choice and gives Home different orders (the only downside we’ve discovered to voice-controlled music playback).

Researchers Create Battery-Free Mobile Phone

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Researchers have emerged from their smoke-filled labs with a prototype of a battery-free mobile phone.

The phone is the work of a group of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and works by harvesting tiny amounts of power from radio signals, known as radio frequency or ‘RF’ waves.

Team member Vamsi Talla told Reuters that ambient RF waves are all around us so, as an example, your FM station broadcasts radio waves,TV stations, mobile phone towers. They all are transmitting RF waves.

The phone is a first prototype and its operation is basic – at first glance it looks little more than a circuit board with a few parts attached and the caller must wear headphones and press a button to switch between talking and listening.

But the boffins say there are plans to develop further prototypes, featuring a low-power screen for texting and even a basic camera. They also plan a version of the battery-free phone that uses a tiny solar cell to provide power.

The researchers plan to release a product in eight to nine months’ time, thought they would not give further details. One team member however, was prepared to give a glimpse of how their work will impact the future of cellphone technology.

“In the future every smartphone will come with a battery-free mode where you can at least make a voice call when your battery’s dead.”

Meanwhile Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Surrey in Britain, are developing supercapacitors, which they believe will eventually allow devices to charge in a period of a few minutes.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung To Delay Bixby Voice Assistant Again

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The consumer electronics giant announced to the Korea Herald that the English version of its digital assistant will be delayed — again — because it lacks enough big data to teach it to work properly. Bixby Voice was supposed to launch in late April before it was pushed back to “later this spring” and then to June. It’s unclear when Bixby will launch.

Samsung did launch parts of Bixby in April in the US, including the “Vision, Home and Reminder” components that offer features like image recognition and home controls. But the central part of the service — enabling a person to use voice to control and navigate Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone — is still only available in Korean.

The delayed launch of Bixby comes at a time when virtually all of the major tech companies are rolling out their own voice-activated digital assistants. Everyone from Apple to Google to Amazon sees speech as the next significant way to interact with your devices and is keen to develop a relationship with you. The hope is your loyalty to an assistant like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Samsung’s Bixby will better tie you to their products and services.

Samsung faces entrenched competition. Amazon leads the market with nearly 71 percent share, thanks to its family of Echo speakers with Alexa, according to eMarketer. Google is No. 2 with almost 24 percent share due to its Google Home speaker with Google Assistant.

Creating a digital assistant that actually, well, assists you takes a lot of data and examples of human interactions. These assistants get smarter with only time and experience, and Samsung’s delays underscore how complicated creating one can be.

Amazon has flooded the market with cheap Alexa-infused speakers over the past couple of years to get more people using its digital assistant. In its attempt to catch up, Google is relying on its treasure trove of data from billions of search queries to power Google Assistant. Microsoft’s strategy is to add its Cortana digital assistant to all Windows 10 devices.

Six years after Siri launched on the iPhone 4S, Apple is just starting to make it more useful but the company has a base of millions of iPhone users to instantly tap.

Samsung doesn’t have that luxury. When the Galaxy S8 phone launched in the US in late April, Bixby was notably missing, especially considering the time Samsung spent talking it up during the launch presentation. The Korea Herald said that early beta tests with US consumers showed mixed results.

“Samsung is continuing to dominate hardware, but once again its shortcomings in software and particularly artificial intelligence are laid bare for all to see,” said Richard Windsor, an analyst at Radio Free Mobile.

The Korea Herald report, citing unnamed sources, also said that the complexities of US engineers communicating with management in Korea has led to slower progress than with the Korean-language version.

A spokesman for Samsung wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Are Smartphones Making People Dumber

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apparently having a smartphone close to hand significantly reduces your cognitive ability, according to a new scientific study.

It does not even matter of the smartphone is off, your brain stops working in the presence of the shiny toy.

The study was prepared by the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

McCombs Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and co-authors conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when they have their smartphones nearby even when they’re not using them.

In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration to score well. The tests measured participants’ available cognitive capacity — that is, the brain’s ability to hold and process data at any given time.

Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room.

All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent. The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag.

We are not sure about this as it did not identify the brands of the smartphone. iPhone users have a low cognitive ability to start with, otherwise they would not think shelling out $650 for a $300 phone was a good idea.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Apple’s HomePod Compete With Amazon’s Alexa

June 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Back in May, we wrote that Apple was preparing to release a Siri-based smart home speaker that would take on competition from Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo series, Google Home, and Harmon Kardon’s recently announced Cortana-based smart speaker.

On Monday during the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller took the stage and introduced the device as the Apple HomePod. On the surface, the name sounds almost nothing like a high-fidelity music device, but under the hood the unit features a number of multitasking commands all natively powered by Siri’s voice control algorithms.

Based on reports from the WWDC show floor, the HomePod’s audio output has been described as “full, wide, and heavily sculpted” and “amazingly loud for such a small speaker”. The company has tuned its speaker profile to provide deep thumping bass, bright vocals, and absent of any flats or distortions. We are guessing that Apple has tuned into the expertise it gained from its acquisition of Beats back in May 2014, which was intended to raise its competitive outlook in the music streaming business. This time around, it has developed a smart hub speaker that will not only raise the stakes in the voice assistant category, but seems to perform in the upper tier category for an audio product.

“It’ll sound right to lots of people,” says Wired’s David Pierce.

As it stands, Microsoft is the only company in the voice assistant market that has placed an emphasis on balanced, richer sound with the Invoke, manufactured by Harmon Kardon. That device is likely to include a propriatory DSP audio technology that delivers a similar 360 degrees of room filling sound, complete with echo and noise cancellation features.

Spatial awareness, Apple Music integration, daisy-chaining support

The HomePod measures under seven inches tall and features a large, Apple-designed woofer, a custom array of seven beamforming tweeters. Just as Amazon supports daisy-chaining multiple Echo devices together in multiple rooms, Apple will let users wirelessly connect multiple HomePods together to create a whole home surround system, only using Siri instead of Alexa. Each HomePod uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio levels, providing more directional control that doesn’t require repositioning several times to hear every tonal pitch from an originally mastered audio track.

The speaker, it’s claimed,  is  compatible with the entire Apple Music library and will be able to answer advanced Siri questions, including the ability to look up drummers and pianists. Of course, the device’s Echo-like features will allow users to send text messages, access sports and weather, and close the curtains without any music interruptions.

HomeKit compatibility

The HomePod is compatible with Apple’s smart home platform HomeKit, which lets users operate their thermostats, dim the lights, set sprinkler timers, and perform routine appliance switching functions. To make this possible, however, all connected HomeKit devices will need to have a special MFi (Made for iDevices) chip installed for machine-to-machine security. This is Apple’s way of not only getting partners to stump up royalty fees, but ensuring that any home automation products can’t be tampered with from the neighbor’s smart hub device a few blocks down the street.

Apple’s HomePod will not come cheap, with a price of $349 (£270 / AU$465) when it releases it later in December in the US, UK and Australia. By contrast, Amazon’s Echo has been selling at $180 since its introduction in 2014, while Google’ Home sells for $130 and the Harmon Kardon Invoke will likely debut at or below $200 to stay competitive with Google and Amazon. Now that Apple has made its announcement, however, Microsoft may change its price structure, depending on how it views the HomePod in relation to its own premium audio offering.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple To Unveil Expanded Features For Siri

June 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc is expected to unveil plans this week to make its Siri voice assistant work with a larger variety of apps, as the technology company looks to counter the runaway success of Amazon.com Inc’s competing Alexa service.

But the Cupertino, California company is likely to stick to its tested method of focusing on a small amount of features and trying to perfect them, rather than casting as wide a net as possible, according to engineers and artificial intelligence industry insiders.

Currently, Apple’s Siri works with only six types of app: ride-hailing and sharing; messaging and calling; photo search; payments; fitness; and auto infotainment systems. At the company’s annual developer conference next week, it is expected to add to those categories.

Some industry-watchers have also predicted Apple will announce hardware similar to Amazon’s Echo device for the home, which has been a hot-seller recently. Apple declined comment.

But even if Siri doubles its areas of expertise, it will be a far cry from the 12,000 or so tasks that Amazon.com’s Alexa can handle.

The difference illustrates a strategic divide between the two tech rivals. Apple is betting that customers will not use voice commands without an experience similar to speaking with a human, and so it is limiting what Siri can do in order to make sure it works well.

Amazon puts no such restrictions on Alexa, wagering that the voice assistant with the most “skills,” its term for apps on its Echo assistant devices, will gain a loyal following, even if it sometimes makes mistakes and takes more effort to use.

The clash of approaches is coming to a head as virtual assistants that respond to voice commands become a priority for the leading tech companies, which want to find new ways of engaging customers and make more money from shopping and online services.

 

Amazon Unveils Echo Show, To Go On Sale In June

May 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc has unveiled Echo Show, a touchscreen device that will allow users to make video calls and watch clips from CNN, the latest in the company’s series of popular Echo voice-controlled speakers.

The device, which will go on sale in June for about $230, will feature Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled aide, that can be used to play music, order an Uber or turn on the house lights.

Echo Show will allow video conferencing between users having an Echo device or the Alexa app. It is the first to support the feature, which is absent in similar devices offered by rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s unit Google.

“Putting a semi-permanent ambient device in the home that can make and receive video calls is an interesting evolution which should prove compelling,” said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson.

The launch of the Echo Show is Amazon’s latest effort to make Alexa a key part of its customers’ lives and dominate the nascent voice-powered computing market.

“What we’re seeing is Amazon using its smart original foray into and early dominance of this space as a beachhead to spread into lots of other areas,” Dawson said.

A study by research firm eMarketer showed that Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices will claim a 70.6 percent share of the U.S. market this year, well ahead of Google Home’s 23.8 percent share.

Amazon unveiled a voice-controlled camera, the Echo Look, last month alongside an app that recommends outfits for users.

The launch comes a day after Microsoft Corp said it was developing a voice-activated speaker in collaboration with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s unit Harman Kardon.

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