It already seems as though Amazon and its handy little virtual assistant have infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives. From a singing bass to a senior care system, just about everyone is looking to jump on the Alexa bandwagon, and for good reason.
Interest in these virtual assistants is rising, and while Siri remains the most widely used of these helpers, Alexa is quickly catching up. A burgeoning number of companies are are making Alexa announcements at this year’s IFA trade show in Berlin. Here are some of the big names going all out for Alexa.
Yamaha MusicCast multiroom
Yamaha plans on enhancing its entire streaming system with Alexa functionality this October by way of a firmware update, whereupon customers will be able to control more than 40 of Yamaha’s MusicCast wireless multiroom products, which include everything from speakers to A/V receivers, by way of their voice. Thanks to an upcoming Alexa skill, listeners will be able to easily control sound throughout their entire home, including the ability to power MusicCast products on (and off), control playback functions, select tracks from playlists, and more.
The firmware update will also allow you to control your Yamaha Disklavier Enspire, which means that you can hear the sweet sounds of a piano (or an electric imitation of one) just about anywhere. Just tell Alexa what you want to hear and where, and you’ll be able to indulge in the Disklavier’s tunes.
“Playing music throughout the home simply by speaking a few words is truly remarkable,” said Robert Goedken, general manager of the AV division for the Yamaha Corporation of America. “And when the source of that music comes from a real piano, it’s like magic. We’re excited that our customers will be able to experience this in their homes next month. In the coming months, we’ll be taking Alexa integration even further, to provide a deeper, more seamless experience. We’re just getting started.”
While Bragi’s headphones are currently compatible with Siri and Google Assistant, users will soon be able to control much more thanks to the Alexa integration. You’ll be able to tell Alexa to tune in to a number of streaming options by way of Alexa, including the Amazon Music Library, Amazon Prime Music, Audible, and TuneIn Radio.
“We have always seen The Dash as an interactive device that improves one’s quality of life. Through Alexa, we are able to take this one step further, bringing smart home, ecommerce, and home entertainment examples of how The Dash can be useful,” said Bragi founder Nikolaj Hviid.
Going much further than just music, Dash owners will also be able to ask their earbuds to hail an Uber or a Lyft, to check airport security lines, to add an event to their calendars, and much more, all via the new virtual assistant integration.
Even other virtual assistants are starting to talk to Alexa. Amazon, and Microsoft just announced that their respective assistants, Alexa and Cortana, will be able to chat with one another. You’ll soon be able to say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” on an Echo device, or turn to your Windows 10 device and say, “Cortana, open Alexa.”
It’s unclear as of yet exactly when this will happen, but the two companies note that Alexa and Cortana will begin talking to each other later this year.
DTS Play-Fi Speakers
DTS has announced that multiple Alexa-enabled speakers from big-name manufacturers will soon join its popular multiroom audio ecosystem, including options from Onkyo, Phorus, and Pioneer.
The Phorus PS10 wireless speaker will be the first Play-Fi enabled speaker to hit the market, shipping in late September, followed by the Onkyo Smart Speaker P3 and Pioneer Elite Smart Speaker F4.
“Amazon Alexa is the most widely recognized and adopted voice service on the market and we are very excited to announce the first of many products with built-in, far-field Alexa capability,” said DTS Play-Fi’s general manager Dannie Lau in a press released about the new speakers. “By combining DTS Play-Fi with the Alexa Voice Service, these speakers extend Alexa’s capabilities to more than 200 products from 23 different manufacturers, while providing compatibility with the same Alexa skills customers have grown to love.”
Each of the new devices will use built-in far-field microphones to detect users’ voice commands, allowing Alexa to control playback and even select home automation devices.
Harman has debuted its new Harman Kardon Allure, an Alexa-powered speaker that is not one of the Echo devices. Promising 360-degree sound and a simple, sleek design, the Allure combines Harman Kardon’s notable audio performance with Alexa’s smarts. If you’re not into the Echo aesthetic, you may prefer this option, which allows you to ask Alexa questions, have her play music, read the news, or even make purchases through Amazon Prime, all with naught more than your voice.
“We’re excited, to integrate with Amazon Alexa to deliver a beautiful speaker with astounding audio coupled with all the intelligent features of Alexa,” said Michael Mauser, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN. “Research shows the number one use of digital voice services is music streaming and Allure with its premium sound quality, iconic design, and exceptional voice-enabled technology, will produce a spectacular sound experience while delivering on our promise of elevating a connected life through smart technology.”
The Allure will be made available this winter for $250.
We’ll be updating this post periodically as more products are added so stay tuned.
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