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Amazon’s Alexa learns an Internet of Things skill

August 1, 2016 11:02 AM
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Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, continues to expand its reach with new products and fulfillment centers. Here’s a roundup of Amazon’s latest moves.

Lock it up: Alexa, the name of Amazon’s Echo digital assistant device, has a new skill—locking doors. The Echo integrates with smart-home accessory maker August Home Inc.’s internet-connected door lock. Consumers can pair their lock to the Echo device. Then when a consumer is home, she can verbally ask Alexa to lock her door and Alexa will communicate to the lock over the internet and lock the door. Because of security concerns, Alexa can only lock doors; the device cannot unlock them, says a spokeswoman for August Home. Consumers also can ask Alexa to order August products from Amazon.com.

Kick it into gear: Amazon is now featuring more than 300 crowd-funded Kickstarter products available for purchase. The Kickstarter Collection on Amazon will have products from categories including electronics, wireless accessories, home and kitchen, books, movies and TV, and toys and games. 

Consumers can find the collection on the Launchpad section of Amazon.com. Launchpad, which debuted a year ago, provides a way for startups to market their products through Amazon.com to Amazon customers. Amazon has worked with more than 100 venture capital firms and crowd-funding platforms to help more than 1,000 startups launch products in the United States, United Kingdom, China, Germany and France, the retailer says.  

Keep building: Amazon is building fulfillment centers in Romeoville, Ill.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Houston. The retailer also says it will open 18 fulfillment centers in Q3. This expansion aims to prevent bottlenecks at its distribution centers like the ones it faced during the 2015 holiday season, Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s chief financial officer told analysts in a conference call Thursday after the release of the retailer’s Q2 earnings.

 

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