Amazon unveils new Alexa-powered microwave
So. Amazon made a smart microwave, meaning the company is just that much closer to controlling every aspect of our lives. First, they came for our TVs, now our dinners. The AmazonBasics Microwave was unveiled at Amazon’s Seattle event on 20 September, alongside other smart devices like a wall clock, an updated roster of smart speakers, and an Alexa device for your car. The AmazonBasics Microwave costs $59.99 (about £45) and comes with quick-cook voice presets, allowing you to verbally command it to cook for you.
All very cool, for sure, but the question remains: Why?
In an recent interview with the BBC, Amazon’s Head of Devices, David Limp, proffered something resembling an answer. “Well, it’s really for one big reason […] A large number of devices, not only in your kitchen, but throughout your house, aren’t yet connected to this great thing of the internet.”
The secret behind this microwave is the Alexa Connect Kit, a Bluetooth module designed to bring smart features to standard appliances. This feels like the real focus of the endeavour, with Limp revealing plans to “ship a lot of Alexa Connect Kits to people who really know how to build and market a microwave.”
The microwave won’t have full Alexa functionality, meaning it can’t tell you the weather or play music for you (because, boy, that would’ve been useful), but you can control it through a nearby Echo speaker.
If you’re left scratching your head as to the usefulness of this latest device, you’re not alone. Take Carolina Milanesi, for example, an analyst at Creative Strategies Inc, who believes that while Amazon is “aware of possibly just putting too much out there… this is still a very new market.”
And because the market is so new, Amazon won’t be slowing down any time soon. Their new Simple Setup and Alexa Connect technologies will make it easier to connect appliances to the internet, and there’s the possibility of offering these systems to third parties.
If you do have your heart on an Amazon microwave (because let’s be honest, there is something oddly tempting about telling your kitchen appliances to cook for you), there’ll be a bit of a wait. The device won’t be released until 14 November, though American customers can pre-order it right now from Amazon’s website. Unfortunately, the microwave is not available to the UK quite yet, though commercial success permitting, we can’t imagine they’d rule us out in the future.