Smart Home: Amazon unveils a home robot in a bid for the connected future

Monday, October 4, 2021 by Snacks
2040: Your avo toast is ready [onurdongel/E+ via GettyImages]

2040: Your avo toast is ready [onurdongel/E+ via GettyImages]

Same name as the Jetsons’ dog... Except it has a tablet for a head. Amazon rolled out new home gadgets at its hardware event last week, including a smart thermostat and a wall-mounted echo. The most interesting drop: a $1K Alexa-powered robot named Astro. Picture a 10-inch tablet on wheels. Control it like a metal dog, with voice commands or through an app.

  • Multitask queen: Astro follows you around while you video-chat on its tablet, and plays music and shows as you do laundry.
  • Host with the most: Astro transports stuff around the house in its storage compartment. Just don't ask it to take the La Croix upstairs (it can't climb).
  • Better than a bulldog: Astro patrols your home while you're on vacay, and can scope out areas where movement is detected.

Connection, still loading... Amazon will offer a limited number of Astros starting later this year. So far the reviews have been underwhelming: Amazon developers reportedly claim it's "terrible" and will "throw itself down" stairs. Still, Amazon has been building its suite of connected-home products, from Echo speakers and tablets to Amazon-branded TVs, and now robots. The goal: plant its flag in the connected home.

  • Today we have smart speakers like Amazon's Alexa and Google's Home Mini, along with thermostats, security cameras, and light dimmers. And let's not forget iRobot's Roomba.
  • Tomorrow we could have showers that turn on at your preferred temp when your alarm rings, health sensors that order Advil when they detect a fever, and AI bots that whip up spaghetti while you drive home.
  • The smart-home market is projected to grow from $84.5B this year to $139B by 2026. And 63M American homes will qualify as smart by 2022.

The smart future could unlock smart profits… The smarter homes become, the more connected hardware they’ll need to power them. That’s an opportunity for companies like Amazon to not only sell new hardware like Astro but also boost subscriptions and e-comm sales. Think: A smart fridge that automatically restocks groceries via Prime. But IoT is still early. Plus, all that connectedness requires tons of data on your home life. That could turn off some consumers.

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