Amazon just doubled down on the smart kitchen in a big way.
Microwaves are about to get a whole lot smarter, and even more convenient, thanks to Amazon Alexa. Google's own Google Assistant will also be in the spotlight - "where there's Alexa, there's likely to be Google Assistant in the mix", writes The Verge in its CES 2018 preview. That said, hopefully Amazon and these companies have taken precautions to make sure that ovens don't get accidentally set without people realizing, since that could lead to a unsafe situation.
This move comes as Amazon believes that customers are increasingly using voice user interfaces (VUIs) as a hands-free way to manage their lives and hands-free control could especially be valuable when cooking.
Alexa now operates through Amazons' Echo and Echo Dot speakers and cooking requests will be made via these devices.
The remote from Amazon Prime also is voice enabled, so consumers can say which program to find. Instead of pressing multiple buttons to enable advanced microwave features, users can simply use their voices.
That's June Oven, the touchscreen-fronted smart appliance that was announced back in 2015. A number of other big-name manufactures, including GE Appliances, Kenmore, LG, and Samsung are also planning to add Alexa to their ovens and other appliances.
According to Amazon, the AI assistant will offer customers a break from, er, "traditional and often confusing microwave experience by enabling them to bark commands at the appliance such as "Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken" or "Alexa, microwave for 50 seconds on high".
Whirlpool has signed on to launch an Alexa-ready microwave that will be the first to the market.
The new feature, called Flash Briefing, is easily set up after downloading the Amazon Alexa app on an iOS or Android device. While we mostly see such types of things in Si-Fi movies, Amazon and these companies are making it a reality. We don't want Microwaves or ovens blowing up or catching on fire.