Amazon Echo Adds Smart Home Functions

amazon echoAmazons voice-activated device the Echo began life as an integrated speaker and personal assistant, but is now beginning to take shape as a smart home hub that can interact with various connected devices around the house.

Initially, the always-on device focused on its digital assistant functionality, with the Siri-like Alexa able to provide users with news, music and information through voice commands, as well as set alarms and create shopping lists.

Now, the internet retail giant has added a new series of capabilities that will see the device transformed into a central control hub for connected homes, enabling owners to operate appliances and fittings such as lights with voice commands.

The functionality relies on connections with Belkins WeMo connected power outlets and Philips Hue light bulbs, both of which connect to a homes wifi network. Echo works with three of WeMos products, including a light switch, as well as five different Hue bulbs.

While the scope to which Echo can control your smart home is limited at the moment, the update is a clear statement of intent by Amazon as to where they see the device headed in the future, and the ease with which devices can be integrated (users simply have to say “Alexa, discover my appliances”) bodes well for Amazons position in this market.