September 19, 2017

Will the next generation of Amazon electronics have VR functionality?

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Newsfeed - September 25, 2017

Rumor has it that Amazon is working on a VR or AR version of the Echo and/or Kindle

Amazon moved from a product seller into a product manufacturer as far back as the Kindle. Since then we have seen the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire 8 and Kindle Fire 10.

Then came the Amazon Echo, the smart speaker that hosted “Alexa” - Amazon’s smart assistant. This was followed by the smaller Echo Dot, the video-enabled Echo Show and Echo Show White, that featured a screen. In other words, the Echo has gone to being a purely sound-based system to being a sound-and-vision system.

This was perhaps inevitable, given Amazon’s experience with the Kindle and its descendants. But now the rumor mill is buzzing with gossip that the next generation of Amazon “Alexa” products will combine sound and vision with VR or AR capabilities.

In one version of the rumor, Amazon will sell a pair of AT glasses that can overlay the user’s normal field of view with anything that can be shown on the Echo Show or Kindle. Thus, you can read an eBook, check out the baby monitor, watch video flash briefings, Amazon video content and YouTube, look at photos, see the weather forecast, write a to-do list or shopping list, browse the amazon store itself listen to a song while reading the lyrics - all hands-free and overlaid across part of the your field of vision so that you are not cut off from your real surroundings.

This of course is the non-immersive Augmented Reality version of the rumor. But it isn’t the only rumor

The other rumor is that Amazon is planning a full-blown VR headset, with the emphasis not on gaming but rather on all of the same practical and entertainment functions above. You will be able to experience sitting on a beach in St Tropez or standing atop a Himalayan mountain, while at the same time listening to music, reading a book or even doing practical things like writing or online shopping.

Highly sensitive sensors using the latest Qualcomm Spectra depth sensing technology, will be used to track the user’s hands - and even fingers - making it possible for the user to press virtual buttons or even operate a virtual keyboard. All this will be combined with the next generation of speech recognition and virtual image simulation. In effect, you will be able to interact with a virtual assistant whom you don’t just hear, but also see.

No dates are yet available, and it is unlikely to appear this year, but based on the way markets operate, we expect to see at least one of these products on the market by Christmas 2018. If that’s too long to wait, there are a whole load of Kindle, Fire, Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show products on the market right now.

And if you’re worried about your purchases this year becoming obsolete, just remember Amazon’s generous Trade-in policy.

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