Amazon has opened a new research facility in the British university city of Cambridge with a wall made almost entirely out of Amazon Echo devices.
The new “development centre” will be home to about 400 engineers who will work on Amazon’s Alexa assistant and drone innovation.
Doug Gurr, Amazon’s UK country manager, in a statement: “The exciting and innovative new products and services developed here will benefit millions of customers around the world, complementing the work that goes on in our other development centres in London and Edinburgh.”
He added: “I hope this new building will contribute towards our global innovation story with voice recognition, streaming video, machine learning and drone technology all being developed right here in the UK.”
Amazon is intending to hire 5,000 people in the UK in 2017, which would bring its workforce up to 24,000 people.
Staff in the office will work on Amazon devices like the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor security camera. They will also work on Amazon Alexa, which is the brain that sits inside a number of Amazon devices.
The office lacks some of the weird and playful additions that can be found in other tech company offices. Google, for example, has a slide at its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
'We want the serendipitous, come-and-have-a-cup-of-coffee-for-a-chat environment, so we have open staircases between floors,' Gurr told The Guardian. 'But we'll tend to focus on things that generate hard work and innovation rather than stuff that might be perceived as a bit more gimmicky.'
One of the walls in the new Amazon building has a significant number of Echo devices mounted into it.
The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker that has an AI assistant called Alexa embedded into it.
Here it is from a different angle. It looks as though these are the original Amazon Echo devices, which Amazon sells for £149 each.
The three-storey office is located next to Cambridge train station. It's a short walk from an Apple research facility that's home to a number of engineers working on Siri -- Apple's rival AI assistant.
Amazon said the office will be home to machine learning scientists, knowledge engineers, data scientists, mathematical modellers, speech scientists, and software engineers.
Amazon it will have 1,500 staff in 'high-tech' roles across its UK development centres by the end of 2017.
'Cambridge has been a centre of academic and intellectual excellence for over 500 years so we are delighted to open our second site in the city,' said Doug Gurr, Amazon's UK country manager.
The company is located in the Evi Technologies building. Evi Technologies is a voice search startup that Amazon acquired in 2012 for what was reported to be around $US26 million.
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