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Smart Home Weekly: Alexa Set Free, Echo For All, Hoover Goes Wi-Fi

Mike Wolf Alexa Amazon Echo Echo Hoover Roost Smart Kitchen Smart Lighting Startups

Summer may be a time of vacation, swimming and slacking off, but not for those of us in the smart home (at least if Amazon has anything to say).  This past week has seen a flurry of activity, with Amazon unbundling Alexa from Echo, starting a $100 million development fund, Roost becoming available for preorder and Hoover Europe launching its Wi-Fi appliance lineup.

You can read about all of these stories below as well as look at some of the interesting startups making news in the space. I also try to bring some sanity back to the smart home space which seems to be alternating between excitement and a sky-is-falling mentality. I put the space into the larger context of normal consumer technology evolution and also try to show how smart home is more than startup-powered DIY products. 

For those of you following the Smart Kitchen Summit, we've added some great speakers including the CEO of Pirch, the President of Jarden USA (Crockpot, Mr. Coffee) and the CEO of Plated. You can see the speaker lineup here. We have a ticket special running through the end of June at 5% off of already low early bird tickets which can be purchased here.

As always, subscribe to the newsletter if you don't already and follow on Twitter for realtime updates and for conversation during the week.

Amazon Loves Alexa, Sets Her Free

They say if you love someone, set them free. And apparently, Amazon really loves Alexa, since yesterday it announced that its voice-powered virtual assistant technology will be unbundled from the Echo. And if this wasn't enough love to shower on the Siri-competitor, Amazon also announced they were sending her off into the world with $100 million dollars of spending money in her pocket. Both of these are important and interesting, so let's look at each: Read More

Amazon Echo For Sale To All

The Amazon Echo, Amazon's Wi-Fi music player that's really a connected virtual assistant/smart home interface, is available to everyone as of today (shipping mid-July) for $179.99. Until this week, the device had been available only to Amazon Prime members since November at a price of $99, which also included a remote (which is now a separate purchase of $29.99). Whether due to the nearly half-off price or Amazon's continuous promotion of the device on the front page of its site, the twenty thousand plus reviews of the Echo tell you the device has sold well into the hundreds of thousands. Read More

Hoover Europe Creates New Line of Wi-Fi Connected Appliances

Candy Hoover officially launched a line of connected home appliances this week in London under the brand Hoover Wizard. The lineup, which it announced in April and includes a dishwasher, fridge, oven and washing machine is expected to ship in August. Read More

Roost Announces Pricing, Finalizes Ship Date, Adds Battery Replacement Option

Had a call with Roel Peters this week to talk about the recent news this week. Here's what I learned. Read More

The Sky Is Not Falling In Smart Home And Here's Why

Last week I wrote about why I thought the smart home market was in for a shakeout. The piece focused on some of the recent venture-funded startups in the space facing choppy waters and how some early efforts in smart home retail are seeing lackluster demand despite the significant amount of space they've allocated for their "smart home" sections. Read More

Podcast: The Smart Home Shakeout

Last week's podcast features Andrew Thomas, cofounder of Skybell, and Ben Stagg, CEO of Halo Smart Labs. In the first segment, Andrew and Mike talk about Quirky's problems, the layoffs at Leeo, and discuss if there is a smart home shakeout coming. They also talk about the Nest press event and Andrew tells Mike he's being a little greedy for wanting more news.
In the second half of the show, Mike talks with Halo Smart Labs CEO Ben Stagg about their next generation smart smoke alarm/emergency detector and they talk about the Nest Protect 2 news coming out of the Nest press event. Read More (and Listen)

Smart Home Quick Hits: Curb, FreshHub/NCR, Astro Apartment Lighting

Here's a quick roundup of all the other stories we didn't go deep on but are interesting in smart home. Curb, a smart energy management system, launched this past week on Indiegogo. The system combines a module that connects into your home breaker box with an app and back-end cloud intelligence that monitors your energy usage and provides granular analytics. It can also send safety alerts, enable remote on-off shut off and monitoring as well as give you energy usage breakdowns by device. Read More

That's it for this week. As always, check us out on Twitter, follow on Facebook, and check out our first event, the Smart Kitchen Summit!

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