Amazon frees computing power from the computer

Amazon’s new hardware devices (Astro, Amazon Glow, and Echo Show 15) are its first steps towards creating an “ambient” computer that exists entirely in the cloud.

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Amazon frees computing power from the computer


The Future. Amazon’s new hardware devices — Astro, Amazon Glow, and Echo Show 15 — are its first steps towards creating an “ambient” computer that exists entirely in the cloud (or within devices that don’t feel like a traditional computer). While these devices are built with the idea of simplifying people’s lives, privacy activists may raise concerns about Amazon collecting all of our data with a cloud system that the company controls.

Motherboard knows best
Amazon announced three hardware devices that lean into what Amazon’s head of hardware, David Limp, calls “ambient intelligence.”

  • Astro. This short, two-wheeled robot has a screen for a face that is like an embodied Alexa. It can be used as an assisted-living companion, a hands-free video-calling device, or a way to deliver items to other people in the house.
  • Amazon Glow. This video-calling device projects a “play surface” on a table so kids don’t get bored when talking to grandparents. Both parties can control the “play surface,” which includes animated books, games, and coloring pages.
  • Echo Show 15. This smart home hub that is hung on the wall like a digital picture frame. Marketed to families, it can show calendars, shopping lists, and sticky notes… like a high-tech refrigerator door.

Infinite Alexas
While these devices may not seem groundbreaking on the surface, they are reinventing the computer. Despite all using Alexa, Amazon’s devices aren’t connected by an operating system like Apple’s iOS and Samsung’s Android. Instead, Limp says these devices run on the cloud and on the “edge” (on the gadgets themselves).

Limp argues that there’s no single Alexa platform for every user. Instead, each device is separately understanding its human consumers more and more, basing its recommendation and prediction tools on increasingly intelligent “hunches.”

This may seem convoluted or abstract, but that’s kind of the point. In Amazon’s world, the computer is here, there, and everywhere.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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