Do we really need an Alexa microwave and wall clock?

Two of Amazon's more unusual Alexa announcements are dividing opinion.

Alongside Amazon’s impressive array of new Echo devices unveiled on Thursday, the tech giant took the unusual step of announcing a voice-activated microwave oven and wall clock.

While it confirms the company’s ambitions around its virtual assistant Alexa and expanding its place in the home, it also raised questions about whether there is, in fact, a limit to where smart home connectivity needs to reach.

The new AmazonBasics Microwave is not an Echo device in itself, but it does contain connectivity abilities to link it to an Echo speaker already in the home, with users then able to use their voice to turn on and set cooking instructions on the device.

Being able to fire up a microwave with just voice commands made for an impressive demo on stage, but in reality, do the smart homes of the future really need it? Some Twitter users aren’t convinced.

But others have pointed out the benefits of such a system for those with disabilities and mobility issues.

The new wall clock is being marketed as a simple, central hub for keeping the family organised through its ability to broadcast reminder and alarm countdowns on its face.

However, it does little in terms of offering new functionality beyond what existing Echo devices can already do – all of them are able to support multiple timers, alarms and sound alerts.

The clock looks and feels more like an Amazon pre-cursor to its plans for branching out – one of the company’s executive’s recently suggested smart homes of the future won’t revolve around some Alexa devices, instead the assistant will just be everywhere.

Though unusual announcements in themselves, and not confirmed for the UK yet, a smart microwave and wall clock might just be the first steps towards that future.

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