The week in smart home: Amazon wants Alexa to be a universal translator

Amazon's splurge, a fancy telly and some sweet, sweet deals

The week in smart home news
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This week we were out at MWC in Barcelona, trying out smart displays and finding out what's in store for companies like Tado and PureLiFi. But there's been plenty happening elsewhere around the world too.

Here's our roundup of the week's top smart home news as well as a few tasty weekend rumours, new releases and a couple of deals the team has found online.

The week in smart home: Amazon wants Alexa to be a universal translator

Alexa the translator

In a sure sign that Amazon is absolutely going after every advantage Google has, the latest reports from sources close to Amazon say real time, universal translation is a big ambition for its Alexa voice assistant. Google has a massive advantage, based on years of building up its natural language processing, not to mention Assistant is currently available in more languages than Alexa.

But the word is that the Alexa team wants us one day to use Alexa to translate multi-lingual conversations between multiple users. In theory, the Echo Show/Spot type devices could also display translations. We've seen smart earbuds from Google, Bragi and Waverly Labs going after this very use case but perhaps a static speaker with far-field mics in the room makes more sense, at least for meetings and the like. Where do we sign up?

The week in smart home: Amazon wants Alexa to be a universal translator

Amazon splashes $1 billion on Ring

The big news of the week is that Amazon has bought smart doorbell makers Ring - for a cool $ 1 billion. “Ring’s home security products and services have delighted customers since day one,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “We’re excited to work with this talented team and help them in their mission to keep homes safe and secure.”

The acquisition of Jamie Siminoff's smart home success story follows Amazon's purchase of Blink, another doorbell and smart security camera startup showing that Bezos is really cleaning up when it comes to the competition.

The week in smart home: Amazon wants Alexa to be a universal translator

Bang & Olufsen's new TV is dreamy

After all that money talk, sink into this image of the new BeoVision Eclipse Wood Edition from Bang & Olufsen. The statement TV is actually an LG display and the combination of the oak panel and the aluminium frame was designed by Torsten Valeur of David Lewis Designers. Beaut.

We recently spoke to Bang & Olufsen about its plans to add voice assistants - all of them - to both future BeoVision TVs and BeoSound speakers in 2018 and 2019.

The week in smart home: Amazon wants Alexa to be a universal translator

Fibaro's Wall Plug works with Z-Wave

If you've gone all in with Z-Wave in your smart home, you might be interested in this new smart plug from Fibaro which can hook up any of your non-connected devices to the protocol.

The LEDs can show you the power load or Z-Wave network strength or can also be set to a glowing night light mode plus the Wall Plug comes in a version with an extra USB port too. If you have one of Fibaro's own home hubs, you can also use it to identify which of your devices is using the most power. This version is on sale now for $59.99, the standard model will go on sale in April.

Deals of the week

UK:62% off Triby Smart Speaker - Read our Triby Smart Speaker review and you might be convinced it's perfect for your kitchen - this week if you don't mind a lime green case, it's less than half price on Amazon UK. Other colours are slightly discounted though not as heavily.

US:25% off Amazon Fire TV Stick - Amazon's slashing prices on its own Fire TV and Fire TV Stick so now's a good time to get yourself a streaming stick if you're, I don't know, hooked on the original The X-Files which is all on Amazon Prime Video.

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