The Week in Smart Home: Amazon's next Echo set to take on Sonos

And other rumors and smaller stories from the week

Amazon's next Echo sounds better

Welcome to The Week in Smart Home, a look back at the events of the past seven days and a walk through some of the rumors and smaller stories that didn't make headlines on The Ambient.

This week there was peace at last between the warring Google and Amazon, as YouTube returned to Fire TV and Prime Video came to Chromecast.

In the UK it was announced people will now be able to ask their Alexa speaker for NHS health advice, in an effort to reduce patient demand on the health service (and, you know, sell more smart speakers). Meanwhile Ikea expanded its Trådfri smart home line, and the JBL Link Bar went on sale... more than a year after being announced.

For everything else, read on...

The Week in Smart Home: Amazon's next Echo to take on Sonos

Amazon's next Echo getting sound upgrade

It's no shock that Amazon is working on its next Echo speaker - and some that are even further out - but a new report from Bloomberg sheds some light on what the company's smart speaker will look like.

The headline feature is improve sound - at least four tweeters - and a wider cylindrical shape as a result. The speaker's sound performance is being ramped up to take on rivals like Sonos and Apple, who have better sounding smart speakers on the market right now.

What's interesting is that Amazon and Sonos have already partnered on the Sonos One and Beam speakers, putting Alexa inside Sonos' hardware. But Amazon surely sees an opportunity to go it alone and bolster its own sound tech. After all, it's not like the company is short of cash for funding its own R&D. As for when we'll see it, the report says the new Echo speaker is to launch "by next year".

But wait - there's more. The article also says Amazon is ramping up efforts on its already-rumored home robot is . The bot has wheels and can be controlled by Alexa (natch), so goes the report. The bot is internally called "Vesta" and while it was intended to be launched as early this year, Bloomberg says the machine isn't ready for mass production, but Amazon has reportedly been relocating engineers from other projects to the robot, a sign that it intends to make it happen.

The Week in Smart Home: Amazon's next Echo to take on Sonos

Wyze cams get person detection

Wyze has released a firmware upgrade that brings Person Detection to the Wyze Cam V2 and the Wyze Cam Pan. As with other smart cams, Person Detection will be able to identify humans, whereas previously it could only detect motion. It means you'll also be able to pick out key events in your recording history, pinpointing exact moments someone appeared in the frame.

Read this: The best cheap smart home devices

The addition of this feature makes Wyze's cheap smart cameras all the more enticing. The Wyze Cam V2 costs just $20 and the Pan only $30, which is aggressively competitive compared to most of our top rated security cameras. You still won't get some of the premium features of those pricier options, but still, Wyze is giving these companies a run for their money.

The Week in Smart Home: Amazon's next Echo to take on Sonos

Abode security system gets lit

DIY smart home security company Abode this week announced an update to its system, introducing a new keypad - Keypad 2 - which has a built-in motion sensor and color-changing LEDs, letting users see the status of their system whenever they walk by.

There's also a backlit keyboard to make it easier for users to see which buttons they're pushing, and there's a rechargeable battery pack that Abode promises will deliver six months of use. That Keypad 2 will be available for $79 and ships in August. You can pre-order it now on the company's website.


This week's best deals

Philips Hue Premium 2-Pack Starter Kit - Save $40
Philips Hue Premium 2-Pack Starter Kit - Save $40
Amazon
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Lifx smart light bulb - Save $20
Lifx smart light bulb - Save $20
Amazon
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Google Home Mini two-pack - Save $29
Google Home Mini two-pack - Save $29
Walmart
$49
Google Nest Hub - Save $20
Google Nest Hub - Save $20
Walmart
$129

TAGGED   smart home

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