Amazon’s new Fire TV Cube device coming soon
Details are sparse, but it would appear likely that it’s a bigger version of the Amazon Fire TV range and will have Amazon Alexa functionality built in – Imagine a Fire TV stick with InfraRed for remote control and and integrated Echo Dot for voice functionality.
What’s interesting here is the possibilities that it opens for the future in the world of virtual Assistants. Currently there are two missing functions in both streaming TV via Amazon Fire and Alexa based products.
Fire TV is great so far as it goes, but it’s no replacement for a terrestrial, cable or satellite service. There are a few TV services such as BBC iPlayer built in, but you can’t get every (or even most) terrestrial channels through Fire TV making it an optional add on at best for most subscribers. For Amazon to get serious about TV they have to make streaming TV from every channel easily available and it’s not an impossible task – TV Player have been doing just this online in a browser for years.
As well as being able to stream live TV, today’s consumers demand catch up TV ability and again, although Fire TV devices carry a limited number of apps for on-demand viewing, recording functionality would make sense.
The second function that a Fire TV device that can replace your TV aerial from Amazon needs is enhanced shopping functionality. Doubtless Amazon will be considering this with an eye to sales and there are two steps which would make sense although at best I would only expect to see the first in early iterations.
With Alexa functionality built in, being able to voice shop and see product selections and preferably see multiple choices would be a huge improvement on the current Echo voice shopping experience. With a TV connection, Amazon should be able to display an image and additional product information on screen for any item on the marketplace. voice shopping is an innovation too far for many consumers (other than for very basic needs and items which for which there is one or very few options). If you are ordering an “Amazon Echo Plus” by voice you already know exactly what you want and what to expect so seeing an image isn’t as critical. However if (as I tried) you want to buy some Lego for your nephew, it’s nigh on impossible to navigate by voice with voice response to find an item you actually want to buy.
For the future, having Alexa hooked into your TV feed opens up all sorts of purchasing options. See a product in a soap or film and why can’t you pause your TV to purchase that item on Amazon. It would take an enormous amount of processing power and Artificial Intelligence but that can all be handled in the cloud. Today, the technology isn’t quite there to scan video for products on the fly, but at some point in the future it will become a reality. Doubtless this will also involve new ways of tagging products but Amazon have proved adept at this and have the advantage that their entire marketplace is already a one product one listing experience which cuts down the workload for merchants if an item has previously been sold.
Although the first Amazon Fire TV Cube generation almost certainly won’t have the ability to upgrade. That said, the Amazon Fire TV Cube could be the first step to the future of changing our TVs from entertainment centres to shopping devices.