Amazon’s Day 1 Edition program pulled back the curtain ever-so-slightly on the company’s hardware development process. The initial class featured its Echo Frames smart glasses and Loop smart ring. Based on early user feedback, the company only opted to continue production on the former.
But it takes the idea even further. The program is akin to a kind of in-house crowdfunded pre-order program. Amazon presents a handful of concepts and potential customers vote with their pre-order. If the goal is met, they’ll bring the product to market. If not, they spike it. It’s not dissimilar to the “First Flight” program Sony Japan launched a little over five years back.
Clearly Amazon doesn’t wont for resources when it comes to launching products. But while a system like this isn’t necessary, I can certainly appreciate how it will facilitate letting the hardware team get a little weird with it. There have been a few exceptions from the company in recent years, with an Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass, but as a rule, big corporations don’t often let really weird hardware concepts get all the way to production.
There are three products in this first batch, and they run the gamut from straightforward to wacky. The common thread — at least with this round — is they all work with Alexa. I’d anticipate that will be the case going forward, but Amazon’s willingness to tip its hand has some very clear limits.
On the more mundane side is a Smart Stick Note printer. Basically you tell Alexa/Echo something and it will use thermal technology to print to an off-brand Post-it. The thermal tech means there’s no ink to replace. The idea is you can print, say, grocery lists and event reminders using voice. That’s up for a $90 pre-order (like Kickstarter/Indiegogo, prices will increase if/when these come to market).
The $35 Smart Scale is designed to work with an Echo Show. You say something like, “Alexa, ask Smart Scale how much sugar is in these blueberries,” or “Alexa, ask Smart Scale to weigh 200 calories of blueberries” and the smart screen will show off the nutritional information for the weighed amount.
The weirdest/most fun of the bunch is the Smart Cuckoo Clock. Following up on the much more mundane Echo Wall Clock, the proposed model adds a mechanical cuckoo to the mix. There’s also a removable pendulum, allowing users to mount it on a wall or stick it on a shelf. That one is $80 in pre-order.
The company isn’t listing specific goals, but each project will show the percentage toward completion (with no numbers listed). If the goal isn’t met, pre-orders won’t be charged and the company will move on to the next project.