Amid gimmicky gadgets that may never make it to the shelves (smart whistle, anyone?) Amazon's Alexa artificial intelligence voice assistant has stealthily become the stand out winner of the Consumer Electronics Show.
The technology which first appeared in Amazon's own smart home speaker Echo and Echo Dot made surprise appearances almost everywhere, from fridges and cars to robots and baby monitors.
LG debuted its Smart InstaView fridge includes Alexa, which can be used to play music, make a note of your shipping list and tell you the weather, just like the Echo, alongside other features such as a large screen and reminding you when food expires.
“By working with Amazon, we are able to broaden our smart refrigerator’s capabilities and further provide our customers with a pleasurable cooking and dining experience," said LG's Song Dae-Hyun.
Modern-day Knight Rider
A collaboration with Ford means drivers will be able to ask Alexa to play it audiobooks or music, just like at home, while they will be able to remotely unlock and start their car from indoors.
“Ford and Amazon are aligned around a vision that your voice should be the primary way to interface with your favorite devices and services. Customers will be able to start their vehicles from home, and manage smart home features while on the road – making life easier," said Don Butler, executive director of Ford connected vehicle and services.
Alexa also provides the voice interaction for a new home helper robot from UBTECH Robotics called Lynx, giving the personal assistant a human form for the first time, while Barbie-maker Mattel has created am Echo-like speaker powered by Alexa which can be used to read kids bedtime stories.
Amazon beat many competitors to market with its voice assistant in 2014, ahead of Google which launched its own late last year, and is reaping the rewards. The tech company said Echo sales had risen more than nine times on last year over the Christmas period. It has not revealed sales figures for the device, however, analysts estimate it has sold five million in its first year in the US, before it launched in other markets including the UK.