Amazon Echo (shortened and referred to as Echo) is a smart speaker developed by Amazon.com. The device consists of a 9.25 inch (23.5 cm) tall cylinder speaker with a seven-piece microphone array. The device connects to the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa, which responds to the name “Alexa”. This “wake word” can be changed by the user to “Amazon”, “Echo” or “Computer”. The device is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information. It can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation hub.
Amazon had been developing Echo inside its Lab126 offices in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Massachusetts since at least 2010 in confirmed reports. The device was part of Amazon’s first attempts to expand its device portfolio beyond the Kindle e-reader. The Echo was prominently featured in Amazon’s first-ever Super Bowl ad in 2016.
Echo was initially limited to Amazon Prime members or by invitation, but became widely available in the United States on June 23, 2015. Press speculated that it would make its Canadian debut in mid-to-late 2016, after Amazon posted job listings for developers for Alexa and co-hosted a hackathon in Toronto. The Echo became available in the United Kingdom on 28 September 2016. Additionally, the Alexa voice service is available to be added to other devices and other companies’ devices and services are encouraged to connect to it.