Amazon has been the top name in the world of smart speakers and virtual assistants thanks to the Amazon Echo. The company’s proprietary Alexa software is essentially an artificial intelligence that can perform commands based on your voice. Amazon’s Echo devices have primarily been used as smart home hubs, coordinating things like smart lighting and smart thermostats, as well as being used as music speakers.
Amazon is looking to expand Alexa’s usefulness with their newest piece of technology, though. Say hello to Amazon’s Astro robot. Revealed during a press event on Tuesday, Astro is basically an Amazon Echo Show on wheels. The little robotic buddy will be able to follow you for all kinds of functionality and opens up the Alexa platform to a new host of abilities.
There are tons of use cases one can imagine for Astro. The first one that Amazon has pointed out is that the little robot can be used to great effect to keep tabs on your home while you’re away. Since it’s outfitted with a camera and microphone, you can use the Astro app to connect to the little robot and direct it to check out various rooms in your home.
This is great for pet owners who want to keep an eye on their animals while they’re away. Another function of this ability could be to check in on older relatives who live with you or even to check in on the kids while you’re at work. This functionality essentially makes the device a great mobile security camera!
The device still has all of the normal abilities of an Echo Show, too. You can use it as a smart home hub, a music speaker, an information retrieval system, and even as just a source of entertainment. Kids are likely to love having a little robot pal that they can ask questions and learn from.
Importantly, the device can be programmed with off-limits zones. It also features a one-button mute and camera-shutoff functionality, allowing you to stop the device from monitoring you if you think someone has stolen your app login information.
The device will initially cost $1,000 for early adopters. Amazon is rolling out an invite-only system for this introductory price, though, and Astro will retail for $1,500 for everyone else when it launches sometime before the end of the year. One thing is certain: this adorable little helper robot is sure to be a popular item this Christmas.