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Bonjour, Alexa: Amazon digital assistant heads to France

10 June 2018

To get voice to work well with a device that sits on a shelf rather than at head level or ear level, Amazon built "far-field voice recognition" into the Fire TV Cube. Baking Alexa into a Fire TV was the next logical step for Amazon, and that step is realized with the new product.

This device has a hands-free depth-sensing camera, built-in LED lighting, and computer vision-based background blur which Amazon assures "makes your outfits pop".

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Amazon has already carved out a spot in many living rooms with its Fire TV set-top boxes and streaming sticks-without divulging numbers, Amazon claims it has sold the most video streaming devices by units. This means that the Cube can control the volume of your TV and also change the input of your TV. That might include soundbars, traditional cable boxes, or other types of IR-compatible accessories you might control with a standard remote.

The unveiling of the Fire TV Cube came as Amazon became the first internet streaming service to buy rights to Premiere League soccer matches, though they will be available only to Prime members in Britain under a three-year deal. With eight microphones embedded within its chassis, the Cube can pick up a voice command across a room.

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The communication between the Fire TV Cube and the other devices is carried out by multi directional IR blasters. The Cube will let you control your various smart home devices and take advantage of Alexa's tens of thousands of skills. Again, something more akin to HomePod than Apple TV.

"We believe voice makes it easier for customers to control their entertainment systems and watch the TV and movies they care about", said Marc Whitten, Vice President of Fire TV. It also packs 16GB of internal storage. Amazon Prime members can pre-order Fire TV Cube on June 7th and 8th at a special price of $90 and it can also be pre-ordered together with the recently announced Amazon Cloud Cam for U.S. $199.98.

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And then there's the third thing: the Fire TV Cube triples as a universal remote. It'll begin shipping on June 21st, but Amazon Prime customers who pre-order on either June 7th or June 8th can get the Fire TV Cube at a discounted price.

Bonjour, Alexa: Amazon digital assistant heads to France