Amazon launch Astro, Glow, Hey Disney and more

Alexa in a robot, interactive video calling for kids and have a chat with Anna from Frozen

John Campbell

Managing Director & Co founder

Amazon took a huge step at yesterday’s Amazon Devices & Services event by launching a robot, a video calling device with a projector for kids and a new way to talk to Disney.

Meet Astro the robot

Astro is more Disney Wall-e than a human form robot. With two big wheels and a screen as a face, Astro is about 30 to 40 cm high and will follow you around your house.

Alexa is built in, so you can talk to Astro in the same way you talk to an Alexa device – getting new audio content or using an Alexa Skill.

Cost-wise, Astro is a tad expensive: $1,499 in the long term and $999 introductory price as part of the Day 1 Product range.

Our Initial thoughts: 

  • Astro can’t climb or go down stairs
  • Physically, it doesn’t appear that Astro can open anything or move anthing
    • There is a little hole at the back you can place something in
  • The camera is great – you can make video calls as you move around your house
  • Could be great for the older generation for video calling, checking in on people and security

Glow

Glow is a combination of a few technologies: video calling, screen projector and image recognition sensors. The idea is that kids can use the device to video call and at the same time play games with the person they are video calling.

So you can imagine video calling Grandad and Grandma, and at the same time reading a book together, or playing a game.

There are similar products out there: Osmo is an app which uses physical items which are detected by the iPad camera. However, Osmo lacks the video call / interactivity with another person.  Glow will use physical objects called Tangram, which the kids can move around to complete games.

One thing to mention: there is no Alexa function in Glow. The user uses the projected screen as input to select games, answer and make calls.

Our Initial thoughts:

  • Would have been great for lockdown
  • Ideal for those who have family abroad
  • Love the interactive element with physical elements of the Tangram
  • Strange that Alexa isn’t included, which opens up a different way to interact or help kids that struggle with the UI

Hey Disney!

We know that Amazon have been working on the ability for “two assistants to co-exist on one device”. It’s nothing new – we’ve seen this type of interaction in the car where Alexa and the car’s own assistants can be used.

There are two ways to use Hey Disney.

  1. Firstly, those staying at Disney World Resort hotels will be able to access the Disney assistant in their room.
  2. The second format will be as a paid feature on the Alexa Skills Store; this this will then allow users at home to access the Disney Assistant.

The assistant will have over 1000 different interactions including jokes, news and helpful content, all voiced over or introduced by Disney Characters.

Our Initial thoughts:

  • Opens up interaction with an Alexa device with a different wake word other than the ones associated with Alexa
  • Gives bigger brands the option to develop their “own assistant” while not having to worry about the hardware stack and installation base of devices
  • Makes sense for Disney, as they also have their own physical location to use the assistant in their hotels

Above is just the tip of the iceberg; there was also a new larger Echo Show, more Ring home security products, Always Home Cam invite list and Halo View to name a few.

Read more over at the round up blog post on the Amazon Blog https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/devices/amazon-devices-services-news-september-2021

 

John Campbell

Managing Director & Co founder

John founded Rabbit & Pork as the third agency and Voice Experience arm of TIPi Group. John has developed and launched several Google Actions and Skills, presented at several voice events around the UK, spoken on the VUX podcast and authored multiple whitepapers.
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