Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa is shaping up to be a regular fixture at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), kicking off Thursday in Las Vegas, with the tech for the cloud-connected voice popping up in products ranging from power switches and vacuums to smart speakers for kids.
Alexa was one of the big hits of last year's CES, and that fervor only gained momentum during the recent holiday season. Amazon's pair of in-house Alexa devices, Echo and Echo Dot, were the best-selling products of the year, according to the company. "Despite our best efforts and ramped-up production, we still had trouble keeping them in stock,” Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO of Worldwide Consumer, said in a statement.
Looking ahead to this year's CES, vendors will be touting a bevy of products that are being integrated with Amazon's artificial intelligence technology, or Alexa Voice Services. One of those companies, Chinese tech giant Lenovo, has already announced a new smart device that looks and sounds like an Echo, but can be equipped with an even better sounding speaker. (More on the Lenovo Smart Assistant here.)
Here's a partial rundown of some of the Alexa-infused products coming down the pike in Vegas this year (CNET has a handy scorecard for all the "smart" releases):
Smart Speakers: Aside from the Lenovo device, Omaker is set unveil its wireless, Alexa-aided Wow speakers at CES this week. A pair of kid-friendly Alexa speakers will also be there, including Aristotle by Nabi (Mattel), a hybrid smart assistant that handles several parenting duties, including keeping track of dirty diapers, playing lullabies when the baby wakes up and reading children's books. Another kid-friendly speaker device, C-Way's Memoo, uses Alexa for similar functions.
Home Appliances: Whirlpool has announced that its cloud-connected line of appliances will be fully integrated with Alexa this year, meaning you'll be able to tell your dishwasher to start rather than trying to figure out how to do it manually. Elsewhere, Samsung is working on a Roomba-style vacuum bot that will be synced with Alexa, and for home security there's a gadget from Somfy that will answer to voice commands. And though we're not sure how useful it is, Hydrao has made a smart shower head that allows you to ask Alexa about your water usage.
Televisions: Dish just announced that it is pairing its Hopper DVR boxes with Alexa so that customers can have a fully hands-free, voice-controlled TV watching experience. “You no longer have to set down your popcorn to change the channel, or spend time searching for what channel the game is on – just ask Alexa to do it for you," says Rob Pulciani, director at Amazon Alexa. You'll be able to say "Find Nic Cage movies" to your Hopper starting soon, the company says. As for actual TVs, sets by Element, Seiki and Westinghouse will soon offer support for Alexa voice searches as well.
Lamps and Switches: GE is expected to unveil its cool-looking C by GE Lamp at CES. Aside from asking Alexa to adjust the lights, you'll also be able to ask her to wake you up in the morning. Belkin is readying its WeMo smart plug, which allows you to sync up with Alexa to kill the lights/power at certain times (helpful for folks going on vacation). Belkin is also readying its WeMo Dimmer Switch, which lets you be more specific about the brightness of your lights, all via voice commands to Alexa.