Amazon expanding Echo line, including wall-mountable smart home panel

As first reported by Bloomberg, Amazon is working on a new line of devices at its Lab126 division, where the original Echo and Alexa voice assistant were developed. At a live event, the tech behemoth announced its plans to launch a 15-inch, wall-mountable Echo display that will enable smart home device management. The new Echo Show 15, which will sell for $250 later this year, will give users a full view of front porches so they can track their Amazon package deliveries through their Ring (or other makers’) doorbell cameras. The device is also optimal for controlling connected locks and lighting in addition to displaying weather, time, photos, and calendar appointments through a number of widgets.

Amazon sees the new Echo device as an ideal kitchen accessory, providing a central screen for home control, messaging, recipe lookup, and access to entertainment apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Bloomberg noted that Amazon has seen greater engagement among its customer base with smart speakers that include screens rather than audio-only control. Amazon is hoping to offer a better Echo experience in the car as well, and Echo Auto is expected to get a second generation in the near future as the company seeks increasing relationships with auto makers.

According to Interpret’s Smart Home Matrix™ quarterly survey of smart home owners, ownership of smart speakers increased by nearly eight percentage points over the past four quarters, reflecting robust growth despite the oft discussed saturation of smart speakers. Among those who reported owning a smart speaker or display and controlling a smart home device, the most frequently controlled smart home devices include connected lighting, security systems, doorbells, thermostats, networked cameras, and kitchen appliances.

“Amazon’s play appears to be a continuation of plans to create a new kitchen appliance that is optimized to provide access to a large number of Amazon products, including Prime Video, Amazon Music, Alexa, Ring, Amazon Fresh grocery shopping, and Prime online shopping for most any product delivered to the door,” said Stuart Sikes, Senior Vice President at Interpret. “While customer uptake for the devices has been strong, voice-based shopping has seen slow growth, but the Seattle giant does not give up easily.”