Amazon’s Echo Show Brings Video Phones to the Smart Home

May 11, 2017 - 2 minutes read

According to a new Technalysis Research survey, a quarter of all homes in the U.S. have at least one smart home device. Of those households, 56% own a smart speaker, with 60% of those purchased in the last six months. So Amazon picked the exact right time to announce its Echo Show, a new version of its smart speaker with an additional touchscreen and camera component. Internet of things app developers have long suspected that smart speakers will soon be a ubiquitous household item, and now that Amazon has pushed the hardware to the next level, they are only going to prove more irresistible.

The Show has the same functions as the Echo, with the added bonus of a visual display. Consumers can get the weather, queue up music, shop, check their schedule, or ask Alexa a stumper and see their activities on a screen. But what really sets the Show apart and makes it so interesting to app developers is that it’s also a video phone and home intercom system. It supports Amazon’s new communications platform for Alexa-equipped devices. The most notable feature of this platform is Drop In, which allows for an instant connection between devices without the need for someone to accept the call.

This video conferencing and home intercom component is a game-changer in smart home devices, but it’s not an original innovation. It appears as if Amazon has ripped off one of its own partners in the Alexa Fund ecosystem, Nucleus. The startup, which received a $5.6 million investment from Amazon, created a tablet with the same instant connection video phone functionality. Now that Amazon is highlighting the same feature as the main draw of the Show, the Nucleus is in danger of being swallowed up. For IoT app developers it’s a sobering reminder to be careful when partnering with Amazon.

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