Amazon reportedly plotting upgraded Echo as work on Alexa robot continues

Sheri Evans
July 14, 2019

The company also seems to be working on Alexa-powered earphones to compete Airpods and a voice-activated wearable device that can recognize human emotions. However, for now Vesta simply isn't ready for mass production, but more engineers are being transferred on to the project meaning it's clearly quite important to Amazon and more than just an experiment. Scheduled for a possible 2020 release, the new model is said to be larger than the current version, with more internal speaker components, yet it will still retain the Echo's distinctive cylindrical shape. The biggest change will be a new Echo speaker, with the company said to have tasked its R&D arm, Amazon Lab126, with the development of said speaker. Although Amazon's regular Echo and Echo Plus speakers do offer decent sound, they are nowhere near the upper end of the market.

This is in response to a major loss in market share to Google Home Max and other smart speakers, all of which claim to have higher-quality audio output than the Echo units.

Amazon originally meant to reveal the robot, known internally as "Vesta", as early as this year, but the machine isn't ready to be mass-produced, the people said. We should also expect a high-end Echo smart speaker to launch in the near future.

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Amazon has continued to invest in robotics and in June introduced new warehouse robots including the Pegasus and Xanthus. Say, "Alexa, turn on the lights", and use the on-screen controls to adjust the light's colour or brightness. The project, codenamed Vesta, is focused on developing a "mobile Alexa" that can follow users around their homes. Essentially this will be an Amazon Echo on wheels - we imagine it'll be able to perform basic commands through Alexa, while simultaneously serving as a music playing device.

If the report is true, Amazon's home robot will be an interesting product. Offering that higher tier to buyers of the new Echo speaker at no additional cost could be a very attractive offer for fans of hi-res music. The company is looking to regain ground lost to premium smart speakers that offer better sound. The HomePod isn't selling as well as Apple expected, and the company recently dropped the price.

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