Amazon updates the Echo Plus so it can control the smart home when the internet goes down – TechCrunch
Amazon today is giving its premium smart home-ready Echo Plus device a notable update. The device, which includes a smart home hub built into the Echo, is now getting a new fabric design, and a temperature sensor. However, what’s more interesting is the addition something Amazon calls “local voice control.” What this means is that if the internet goes down, you’ll still be able to use Alexa to control your smart home devices.
As the company explained this morning at an event in Seattle, a hub that works with a cloud-based system can often run into trouble when internet access becomes spotty or unavailable. So what the company did to address this is build in a new capability, local voice control, that takes the best of its natural language understanding and its automatic speech recognition, and runs it all locally on the device.
So when the internet goes down – and Amazon says it’s starting with the smart home capabilities here, when it comes to local voice control – you can still say “Alexa, turn on the lights” or “Alexa, turn on the plug,” and it’ll work. This feature will get better over time as the devices add more local control more capabilities, the company noted.
Meanwhile, the temperature sensor feature will allow Alexa owners to add temperatures into their routines. For example, if the room gets too chilly, Alexa can tell you.
The updated version of the Echo Plus will still remain $149 and it will be shipping in every country that Alexa is in today.