Amazon plans to announce as many as eight new Alexa-powered consumer electronics devices, including a smart microwave oven and other devices later this month, according to an internal company document describing the plans viewed by CNBC. Amazon declined to comment to CNBC. Amazon may announce some of these devices at an event later this month, CNBC reports.
According to the report, some of the new devices will have virtual assistant technology built-in while others will have the ability to connect to Alexa. In addition to a microwave oven, the planned appliances include a device to be used in cars, a receiver, a subwoofer speaker and an amplifier.
Amazon also this week announced a beta program for an Alexa Gadgets Toolkit, which provides sample code, self-service APIs and other technical documentation to help outside developers create their own devices that can become Alexa-enabled when paired with one of Amazon’s own Echo devices, according to an Amazon blog post.
The partial list of planned gadgets shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been following Amazon’s device rumors and developments closely over the last few years.
Early this year, Amazon revealed that developers could use its Alexa Smart Home APIs to create skills to control microwave oven functions, among other things. Amazon’s interest in enabling more smart home devices beyond smart speakers has been made clear.
Amazon also announced a partnership with Ford last year to bring Alexa to some of its car models. The company has been involved in other in-car commerce development, including forging a similar alliance with Toyota earlier this year, thereby making an in-car Alexa gadget seem like the next logical step.
What we have known about Amazon strategy for Alexa for a while now is that either through its own creations or through support of developer efforts, it’s trying to bring Alexa to as many everyday devices as possible (Could we see the Alexa-enabled toilet announced this month?) Any upcoming announcements will serve to fuel Amazon's momentum and expansion, but so will developments like the unveiling of the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit.
The point of the toolkit and Amazon’s ongoing Alexa expansion is that developers can create devices that will be popular with their own followers, and as they find an audience, will expand the Amazon brand.