Amazon blindsided many in November with the launch of a voice-activated speaker called the Amazon Echo. And today, the Internet giant revealed the next stage in the product’s evolution — it’s introducing support for WeMo and Philips Hue products, meaning you can activate lights and switches using nothing but your dulcet tones.

The Amazon Echo is still an invite-only gadget, which you can request access to through the main product page. The device costs $199.99, or $149.99 for Prime subscribers.

The Amazon Echo very much leans on the growing Internet of Things concept of ubiquitous computing and smart homes, which means its efficacy ultimately relies on its compatibility with third-party products.

Indeed, to garner maximum value from such a product, you will also need to invest in additional hardware — in this case, WeMo and Hue. By way of example, the Belkin WeMo Switch costs $43, while other compatible WeMo products include Insight Switch, and Light Switch. In terms of Hue, the A19, Lux, BR30, Bloom, and LightStrip are also supported.

Today’s news follows hot on the heels of the recent support for Pandora; traffic updates and route recommendations; and sports scores.

It’s all very interesting stuff, and hints at the future we’re heading towards — rather than flipping a switch to turn on your fan or coffeemaker, you just shout “Alexa, turn on the fan,” or “Alexa, turn on the coffee maker” instead.


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