Amazon and Embassy Group are collaborating to bring Alexa-enabled smart homes to India. As part of Embassy Group’s residential project Embassy Edge in Bengaluru, these homes will be pre-equipped with Amazon Echo range of smart speakers.
Echo devices are popular with the smart home consumer segment, hence it was natural for Amazon to initiate the move, Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experience and Devices at Amazon India told ETtech.
Buyers of these homes will be able to control smart home appliances, including the ability to play music, make and receive calls from Echo device users or the free Alexa mobile app.
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According to Kumar, the switches in these homes will come internet enabled, so that users don’t have to buy special appliances to be able to control them, but can connect normal non-internet appliances with the switch. So, even a regular tube light or a dishwasher can be connected with the switch and hence be controlled via Alexa.
“As a result, your cost of doing it becomes extremely low and you don’t need to buy fancy lights, bulbs, fans or ACs. Anything that you connect to the switch, you will be able to control it through Alexa” Kumar added.
Although Kumar did not give specifics about the devices that will be present in these homes, he disclosed that the smart home protocol, Zigbee, and a screen for user interface will be included.
“This is a multi-year project, so it’s hard to predict which exact device will be there in the final stage right now. However, it is very easy to say that you will have a device with Zigbee that’s going to control your smart home and you will have a multi-modal device with a screen so that you can have an interface to the speaker.” Kumar said.
Zigbee is used by Philips and many other smart home products, and ZigBee smart devices can only be controlled by Amazon Echo Plus smart speaker, which includes a built-in smart home hub that connects and controls ZigBee smart devices.
Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook have been vying for the smart speaker space in India. While Amazon and Google introduced a range of smart speakers in the past year, 2018 is likely to see Apple and Facebook launch a range of AI-based speakers. Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers have already been introduced in in-car infotainment systems.
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According to Entrackr, in the competitive spirit, Google and Amazon are likely to spend upto INR 60 crores on promotions for their respective voice assistant portfolios, Home and Home Mini and variants of Echo.
Amazon has already announced that as of 2018, BMWs and selected Mini vehicles will have Alexa speakers integrated into them. These speakers, which will be specific to cars, will have the ability to pair with smartphones, which can be mounted on the dashboard.
According to a Forrester report, ‘Smart Speakers Are Gradually Accelerating The Adoption Of Smart Home Devices,’ although cost remains the major inhibitor of smart home adoption, smart home devices are expected to grow tenfold between 2017 and 2022, and Amazon Echo is leading the race in the smart speaker category.