Amazon has unveiled a slew of new Alexa gadgets at an event in Seattle on Thursday.
The move shows how the world’s largest online retailer works to make its voice assistant Alexa more ubiquitous than ever.
One of the more unusual of the new 15 Alexa-enabled devices is the AmazonBasics microwave, that users can control with their voice. The new microwave connects to the Alexa-powered Echo device via Bluetooth.
According to Techcrunch, the voice-controlled microwave started as an in-house reference product as Amazon was developing an API for third parties to develop their Alexa-enabled devices. The company said at the event that the microwave is “still stuck in the late 70s” so it decided to build a new one.
One of the challenges in building the product is how to make the microwave work with Wi-Fi signals, but the company managed to figure this out.
Alexa is not built-in. The appliance works with a nearby Echo, allowing users to cook things via voice. The built-in Ask Alexa button allows users to talk to the assistant.
“AmazonBasics Microwave simplifies cooking by letting you microwave using your voice and an Echo device. Just say, ‘Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee,’ and Alexa will start reheating with the appropriate power and time settings,” Amazon described its new smart microwave oven.
The team who developed the device also integrated Dash replenishment services inside the oven, so users who run low on popcorn can easily order more directly from the device.
Dave Limp, the senior vice president of Amazon Devices, demonstrated how Alexa and the new microwave works together at the Amazon hardware event.
The microwave comes with a range of quick-cook voice presets so users won’t have to agonize figuring out the cooking and heating time of different things.
The product is not the first microwave to feature Alexa voice control features. Engadget said that companies such as Whirlpool, LG, Kenmore, and GE have already made or are working on similar appliances. The AmazonBasics microwave, however, is the first Amazon-branded microwave, which could mean better integration with Alexa.
Will consumers buy it, or the other Alexa devices that Amazon just launched? Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told Reuters it is too early to speculate.
“One or more of these products is likely to resonate, but (it’s) impossible to speculate today,” Pachter said.
Still, with a price tag of just $60, who can resist buying an Alexa-enabled Amazon microwave?