The rollout of Amazon Alexa-enabled devices that transcend the Echo continues to grow, this time with its first touchscreen video device called Nucleus.
Roughly the size of a tablet (9 inches x 7 inches and just 2.1 pounds), the Nucleus combines touchscreen video screens with embedded cameras that can be accessed via app on your smartphone, allowing you to communicate with any room in your home or office equipped with a Nucleus device.
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Those features alone are widely accessible through some existing, high-end home communications systems as well as something as simple as FaceTime through an iPad and iPhone. But by embedding Alexa in the Nucleus system, suddenly your communication screen-enabled home is also powered with the voice commands and information available to Alexa, as well as the inventory of Amazon's online store.
The integration of Alexa into the Nucleus touchscreen system came about after the company was accepted into the program.
"Integrating Alexa into Nucleus was a natural fit," Steve Rabuchin, Amazon Alexa vice president, said in a statement sent to Mashable. "Voice and the Alexa services provide an easy way for families to stay organized, manage their busy lives and have fun. We opened up [Alexa Voice Service] to device makers and developers for free and it’s exciting to see Nucleus take advantage of the service and bring their innovative technology into homes."
When Nucleus' video screen is being used for a call, the Alexa features are disabled, so there won't be any accidental video chat interruptions simply because someone said "Hey Alexa." But once a video chat is over, the Nucleus interface, which shows a selection of the rooms and remote devices accessible, defaults to Alexa mode, waiting for your commands.
When a command is uttered, a slick waveform appears onscreen to indicate that Alexa on Nucleus is recognizing and processing your voice command. You'll know Alexa is about to respond because on the Nucleus screen Alexa's familiar sky blue ring icon appears (in the lower right corner) as it answers your question or request.
"Traditional intercom systems are … hard to install – and video chat services like Skype are tricky for some to maneuver," said Jonathan Frankel, cofounder and CEO of Nucleus, in a statement sent to Mashable. "But with Nucleus, my family is there when I need them at the tap of a button. And now with Alexa, there’s even more value for parents, like adding groceries to a shopping list or checking on the weather when their hands are tied."
As a plug and play system for the next generation of video intercom devices, Nucleus is indeed an attractive, and relatively affordable solution. But when paired with Alexa, it appears to deliver the powerful smart home environment most of us have only seen on television or in films in the homes of the wealthy. This time though, it has an affordable entry price.
The Nucleus device, which uses your home's Wi-Fi connection, costs $249 for one device, a price that drops to $199 per device when purchasing two or more. The app that connects the devices to your smartphone is available for both iOS and Android.
However, beginning Thursday, the devices will only be available on Amazon.com and at select Lowe's stores around the U.S.