Amazon has unveiled a new version of its barcode-scanning gadget, the Dash Wand — and it now has the company’s AI assistant Alexa built in.
The device brands itself as a “wifi enabled kitchen assistant” that will “[revolutionise] how you shop for everyday essentials.” Basically, it’s a wand you use to scan the barcodes of food to automatically add them to your shopping cart. Running low on mayo? Just scan the jar and order the same again.
The Dash Wand first launched in the US in 2014 (though only made it to the UK in 2016), and now it’s getting an upgrade. Amazon is baking in Alexa, its voice-controlled assistant. Press a button and you can talk to it to place shopping orders, or ask it questions, or control your smart home’s lighting. (It doesn’t play music, however, unlike the Amazon Echo smart speaker.)
Alexa originated in the Amazon Echo smart speaker, but Amazon is now on a mad dash to include AI assistant in as many platforms as possible, from fridges to cars. Amazon — like Google, Apple, and others — is betting that the next big frontier for tech will be AI and smart assistants that control your home, and it’s determined to take advantage of its early start on the competition.
The Dash Wand with Alexa now means it is cheaper than ever for people to get Amazon’s AI assistant in their homes. The Echo Dot, Amazon’s previous cheapest Alexa-enabled device, costs $US39.99 (or £44.99 in the UK). The new Dash Wand is going for just $US20 in the US and includes $US20 of Amazon credit — making it, Amazon says, “essentially free.”
UK customers may have to wait, however. It’s not currently listed on Amazon UK, and Amazon’s tech products often launch months or even years later in the UK compared to the US. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.