Amazon has added the voice-recognition software it first showed off in its Fire TV set-top box to a new home-shopping offering called Dash.
The goal of Dash—a roughly 6- by 1-inch wand that resembles the Fire TV remote control, but with a loop on its end to make it easy to hang on knobs or hooks around the kitchen—is to make it simpler for people to ask Amazon for the things they want to buy.
Paired with AmazonFresh, a grocery delivery service Amazon now offers in Southern California, San Francisco and Seattle, Dash includes a barcode scanner so that people can put together grocery lists by scanning the items in their house.
To order something general, or without a barcode, a user can just hold down the voice-recognition button and say, for example, "apples." When a shopper goes online or into the Amazon app to conclude and submit his order, he'll see apples on the list—along with the specific cereal boxes and whatnot that he scanned—and be given the apple options to choose from.
Amazon wants to be everybody's everything store, and Dash could help it grab a larger share of the one thing most people don't buy online: groceries.
Though the service isn't limited to foodstuff. More than 500,000 items can be ordered through Dash, according to a video on the Amazon site, though Dash can recognize "millions" of items on AmazonFresh and Amazon.com. Dash can "scan a week's worth of groceries in minutes," connects to a home's WiFi network and is sturdy enough to hold up against busy household use, Amazon added.
"If you never had to type again on a phone, that would be great," Paul Cousineau, Amazon's director of mobile shopping, told Re/code, according to an April 5 report. "We want you to go from 'I want that' to 'I bought that' in 30 seconds or 10 seconds."
The Everything Store
Amazon more aggressively entered the streaming-video space April 2 with the introduction of Fire TV, a device that enables the company it to cut out any middle players between its offerings and its customers. Amazon sells Google's Chromecast and the Roku streaming media player, for example—devices that Fire TV, with its unique speak-to-search feature, can replace.
Amazon also made headlines (and raised eyebrows) in December when it publicized that it was testing out drones—or "octocopters"—as a way to offer deliveries in some locations in 30 minutes or less.
"Yes. One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," Amazon said in a statement.
Introducing Fire TV, Amazon executive Peter Larsen described Amazon as constantly "inventing and simplifying" in the service of its customers.
"We're always asking ourselves, 'What else can we do in the service of simplicity?'" he said.