Home / Technology / News /  Amazon launches Echo with 15-inch screen, Disney parks tie-up

Amazon.com Inc. is broadening its bet that users of its voice software want to see things, too, rolling out an Echo device with a 15-inch screen.

The new device, called the Echo Show 15, is a wall-mounted smart screen that can stream Prime Video and Netflix, display calendars and comes with a custom-built chip to help process voice commands.

“We think of it as a kitchen TV, just much, much smarter," said Miriam Daniel, a vice president with the Seattle company, during a new devices showcase held on Tuesday.

Amazon also announced a tie-up with the Walt Disney Co. to put Echo devices in the company’s theme parks and hotels. Expected next year, they’ll be equipped with new software, called Hey, Disney!, built on the technology behind Amazon’s Alexa. That will enable visitors to interact with Disney characters and summon Alexa for other tasks.

Also new:

  • A smart thermostat in partnership with Honeywell International Inc. The $60 device, which will sell for as little as $10 with rebates, is a potential competitor to Alphabet Inc.’s Google Nest.
  • A new version of its fitness tracker, called Halo View, that incorporates a small screen for the first time. It will cost $80, Amazon says. A new service, called Halo Fitness, targets major users of wrist-worn devices.
  • Glow, a device that  combines an eight-inch screen for video chatting with a projector that displays images on an adjacent 19-inch “touch-sensitive" projection area. The pitch is for kids to connect with loved ones by doing puzzles or drawing together. Available to begin with on an invite-only basis, the device costs $250.

The company, which flopped in its attempt to launch a smartphone line, has nevertheless built a massive consumer electronics business around its voice-controlled Echo smart speakers and accompanying Alexa software. Other hot sellers include Fire TV streaming sticks and home security equipment from Ring, the southern California smart doorbell maker Amazon acquired in 2018. Amazon has held new product unveilings in each of the last several years, an effort to position itself at the center of the burgeoning market for smart-home gadgets.

Amazon’s devices unit has been a frequent target of criticism, from privacy advocates who question the wisdom of always-on microphones in the home, and civil liberties groups alarmed by Ring’s partnerships with police departments and security practices. Those doubts haven’t derailed Amazon’s sales. 

Meanwhile, the company has worked to burnish its privacy credentials, offering Alexa users more granular options to delete voice recordings captured by Amazon devices, encrypting videos picked up by Ring, and asking police departments to publicly request footage they want for investigations.

Amazon earlier this month announced its first line of televisions, as well as an update to its Kindle e-reader line. Bloomberg News reported last week that Amazon was working on a larger Echo with a wall-mountable screen, a TV sound bar, and more advanced smart-speaker technology for use in cars. The company has also considered developing an Alexa-powered wearable device for children. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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