Tuesday 23 October 2018

Smart home arrives in Ireland as Amazon launches Alexa and Echo

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

The arrival of the smart home in Ireland just took another big step.

Amazon has launched its smart voice system, Alexa, in Ireland. The company is now selling its Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot smart speakers directly into the country.

Alexa, the voice-controlled artificial intelligence system that powers the smart speakers, will now work for local Irish services such as Ryanair, RTE and local radio stations.

The system allows you to ask it questions, phone calls, send messages, play music or get news or weather. It also allows you to set alarms.

It works with smart home gadgets such as lighting and heating systems, allowing users to speak commands to control household functions.

Amazon has also announced that its rival to Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, is now available in Ireland for €3.99 per month per Amazon Echo device. Amazon Music Unlimited normally costs €9.99 per month for an individual plan that’s accessed from smartphones or other devices.

The Echo smart speaker system uses “far-field voice recognition” with an array of seven microphones to hear users from across the room, while “beam-forming” technology combines the signals from the individual microphones to suppress noise, reverberation and competing speech.

Amazon is bundling a Philips Hue smart lightbulb with the purchase of its Echo Plus smart speaker to encourage smart home adoption.

The Alexa system ‘learns’ from users’ behaviour and habits.

The company said that its ‘Alexa Skills Kit’ and ‘Alexa Voice Service’ is now available for local Irish developers to build compatible systems for locally.

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