Amazon Announces Luna, Alexa Guard Plus, spherical Echo speaker for Fall
Amazon Announces Alexa Guard Plus, spherical Echo speaker, Ring, Luna, and more for Fall
Last week on Thursday, Amazon announced its Fall Devices and Services and updates around its home security portfolio, including the latest Alexa Guard and new Ring devices. This event is held to help the e-commerce giant generate buzz as holiday shopping season approaches, and for the first time, Prime Day (The annual sale is usually held in July, but this year it is slated to start on Oct. 13.) The major item among them is the launch of Alexa Guard Plus, a new security feature designed to bolster the existing listening and reporting capabilities of Alexa Guard, for a US$4.99 monthly fee. The Guard Plus is designed to make the Alexa Guard experience more seamless. Alexa Guard, which was announced last year, is a feature for the Echo smart speaker lineup that transforms Alexa-enabled devices into a smart home security system. The free service uses Alexa devices to detect disturbances in the home and sends users alerts via their mobile device.
Alexa Guard Plus adds a few more features: It can listen for more sounds, such as footsteps, doors opening, or babies crying, and sound a siren or make dog barking noises from the Alexa speakers. It can also be linked to other smart home devices, such as cameras from Ring, Blink, Arlo, and August, which can also trigger an event. These features also include the ability to call an emergency helpline through an Alexa device without the use of a cellular connection or mobile phone. The service can also play a warning sound, like dogs barking, if the Echo device is placed in Away Mode and a potential intruder is detected. It is important to note that Alexa Guard Plus doesn’t proactively call emergency services if there’s a fire or anything like that; the homeowner has to initiate the call, which goes to Rapid Response Monitoring Services, the company Amazon is using for its Emergency Helpline.
Amazon also announced a series of Echo devices that redefine the entire range even as Alexa, which powers it, becomes smarter and more natural. The new Amazon fourth-gen Echo is spherical and brings in qualities of the Echo Studio to lower price points. There is also an all-new Echo Dot 4th gen (US$50), as well as Echo Dot Kids Edition (US$60), with features like the reading sidekick to help children read-along. Alexa’s custom kids experience means that the children can ask Alexa questions, set animal-themed sound alarms, get help with homework, and call pre-approved friends and family.
There is a new feature called Reading Sidekick, where Alexa can take turns reading with one’s child and offer support when they struggle. Amazon also announced its latest 13 MP smart display, the all-new Echo Show 10 (US$250), at its hardware event. The device doubles as a home security system (guard and sentry mode), with the ability to swivel toward sounds it hears or allow a person watching a remote live video to see more. The 10-inch screen will also come with Netflix preloaded and ZigBee Hub for controlling smart devices.
Amazon has introduced Luna, a new cloud gaming service that will run on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Aiming to compete with Google Stadia, Apple Arcade, and Microsoft xCloud, the Luna Controller with Cloud Direct technology is intuitive and straightforward. The controller is Alexa-enabled and connects directly to the cloud to effortlessly control the games. Amazon Devices and Services team claim to have removed 20 milliseconds of roundtrip latency via Luna Controller with Cloud Direct technology vs. a local Bluetooth connection when playing Luna on a Fire TV Stick. The company also introduced the Luna+ game channel. During early access, people will have popular games like Control, Resident Evil 7, GRID, Yooka-Laylee and The Impossible Lair, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Customers can request early access starting today. Luna+ will be offered at an introductory price of $5.99 per month during the early access period, and Luna Controller will be available for an introductory price of $49.99. Amazon also announced a new gaming channel with leading global video game publisher Ubisoft, available directly through Luna.
On the device-side of Amazon’s security product updates, the company is announcing the Ring Car Alarm (US$60), the Ring Car Cam (US$199.99), and Ring Always Home Cam (US$250). Ring Car Alarm plugs into a vehicle’s OBD port and monitors for impacts, break-ins, and tows. An alert is sent to users if anything is detected. For connectivity, the Car Alarm utilizes Amazon’s new Sidewalk network, aiming to extend the operating range of low-bandwidth devices, enabling limited offline connectivity for uses such as motion alerts from security cameras. Meanwhile, Ring Car Cam will help users document traffic stops, collisions, and other road events.
Outside the home, Ring’s Car Cam can act as a car alarm, and when paired with Car Connect, it can show live video footage from inside the user’s car. Its sensors monitor for bumps and attempted break-ins, and dual-facing HD cameras offer a live view of what’s happening in and around the vehicle through either wifi or optional LTE. It can also respond to voice command and begin recording if the police pull over a driver. The system has a feature called “Traffic Stop” that allows users to say, “Alexa, I’m being pulled over,” The camera will immediately start recording and save the footage to the cloud. Lastly, the Ring Always Home Cam is a small, autonomous indoor drone that will fly to predetermined areas of the home, offering users multiple viewpoints of the house while they’re away. It comes with a 1080p camera.