Smart speakers have morphed from entertainment tools to serious lifestyle managers


Bangalore, December 2 2019: There is one application of Artificial Intelligence,  that is already touching lakhs of Indians, though they may be unaware:  Voice-based Assistants,  to be found in smart speakers available for the home.
Amazon has been  a pioneer in this arena -- launching the Echo speaker in India, two years ago, with Alexa  voice  as its centrepiece. Since then it has launched four  variants --  including mini versions like Echo Dot as well as  screen-based  models like Echo Show.  Now it has gone upmarket -- with the new Echo Studio, its largest smart speaker  yet, with audio quality to match.
Like the Echo Plus, it includes  the additional  function of a hub for all  compatible home devices --  Philips and Syska lighting, TP-Link routers and  appliances like microwaves, security cameras and air conditioners.  Where it scores 'bigly' -- to use the current Trump expression -- is in  superior audio. The Studio has three   2-inch  mid range speakers pointed in three directions,  a 1-inch tweeter and a downward facing jumbo 5.25-inch woofer. That is a lot of audio bang for your buck  and can serve the largest drawing room.  Filters adjust the sound to the room  size and shape  and a recent  feature lets you whisper your commands, if others are sleeping.  The Alexa version launched in India is an asli  desi behn  and understands shudh Hindi as well as Hinglish.
Standard features like hands-free  calling and access to music services like  JioSaavn, and Hungama are there. The WiFi access is equivalent to 802.11ac. The Studio is   3.86 kg and  sits solidly in a  7-inch diameter cylinder. Responding to recent privacy concerns, is a feature where you can switch  off the microphone.  In an upcoming change, you can soon delete all voice recordings automatically after a set period. Echo Studio retails for Rs  22,999 at Amazon.  A premium product with premium  audio.