Photos obtained by VentureBeat reporter Evan Blass indicate that Amazon appears to be working on an Alexa-enabled device with a touchscreen and front-facing camera.
Signals of a touchscreen Echo have trickled out in recent days. Today AFTV News published low-quality images of the device this morning, while a person familiar with the matter told CNET last week the device may make its debut sometime in May.
The Amazon Echo is a voice-only device, but it does sometimes use screens. Today when a person interacts with an Alexa skill, it’s common for content or links to be shared in cards within the Alexa app.
The argument over whether to give voice-powered smart speakers like Echo a screen has been around as long as intelligent assistants. As Alexa grew in popularity and adoption in 2015, Babak Hodjat, maker of the tech behind Siri, said he believed Alexa’s success will hit a ceiling because it has no screen.
“A solely speech recognition based system with no other user interface or contextual elements is incomplete,” Hodjat told Business Insider.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) May 5, 2017
The yet-to-be-named device is the latest from Amazon to give people access to Alexa.
In addition to the Alexa Voice Service that places Alexa inside a range of devices from cars to refrigerators, last month Amazon announced the release of Amazon Echo Look, a device with Alexa and a camera inside that gives people fashion advice.
It’s not yet known how touch and voice would work together in a touchscreen Echo, but a touch and voice experience with Alexa can already be found in Amazon Fire tablets or when using the Amazon app as well as smartphones like the Huawei Mate 9.