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article imageAmazon thinks you need a wand to order groceries with your voice

By James Walker     Jun 15, 2017 in Technology
Amazon has launched a new hardware product that lets you use your voice to order grocery items from AmazonFresh. Called the Amazon Dash Wand, it features the company's Alexa digital assistant and comes with a magnet so you can stick it to your fridge.
The Dash Wand was announced today in its own product page on Amazon's website. The company has been quietly trialling the device with a few users over the past year. The Wand is a revision of Amazon's previous Dash products, all of which are focused on making it simpler to restock on household essentials.
The Dash Wand is meant to be stuck to your fridge or another appliance in your kitchen. It connects to Amazon over Wi-Fi, relaying your commands to the site's servers. When you need to order more food, Amazon envisions you picking up the Wand and using Alexa to complete the checkout procedure.
Everything can be completed on the device, without having to use Amazon's website to finalise the payment This has been a sticking point on former Dash products.
To get a full selection of foods from Amazon, you'll need access to AmazonFresh. This is the company's Prime-exclusive service that lets you purchase meat, vegetables and other perishables.
If you purchase the Dash Wand, you'll be given a free three-month trial of AmazonFresh. The system's clearly designed to get you paying for it once you've experienced the convenience of the Dash Wand. Since AmazonFresh is only available in three U.S. cities, the impact of this scheme may be limited though.
Besides ordering grocery features, the Dash Wand's Alexa integration allows you to access some of the digital assistant's other features. Voice commands are available for basic kitchen-specific skills too, including recipe finding and measurement conversion. If you need to look something up while you're cooking, Alexa could help you to find the answer.
There's also support for "thousands" of Alexa's existing skills, including those provided by third-party services. While Amazon cautions that the Dash Wand can't play music, most other Alexa features shouldn’t pose a problem. Amazon's umbrella description of the Dash Wand is "a wifi enabled kitchen assistant that helps you shop AmazonFresh."
The Dash Wand is really a clever ploy by Amazon to introduce more people into its food delivery services and Alexa tech. It hopes that people may be introduced to Alexa on the low-cost wand and then upgrade to a more costly Echo smart speaker. At the same time, it can lock customers into its retail platform, simplifying food shopping by offering no-click restocking on most common items.
These intentions are evident from Amazon's pricing for the Dash Wand. At only $20, it’s an easy first step into the Alexa ecosystem. The company's also running an undeniable promotion that offers Prime customers $20 of Amazon credit when they buy the device. This makes the Dash Wand essentially free, a proposition that could introduce thousands of Prime subscribers to Amazon's Alexa AI.
More about Amazon, Alexa, Amazon Dash, amazon dash wand, amazon prime
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