What technology is behind Amazon Echo

Watch out, it's spinning: Amazon makes the Echo Show rotate

Berlin - This screen rotates. The display shows wherever you are in the room. With the new Echo Show 10, Amazon has tackled the principle of its networked speakers with display, which has remained unchanged for years. Cameras, microphones, software and a motor now work together - so that the view always falls on the display.

How much turning is too much turning?

In the idle state, the Echo Show 10 stands still. If you speak to Alexa, the display turns towards you. And then the screen swivels with you - regardless of whether you are viewing information from Alexa, have to follow a recipe to cook, watch a video or are in a video conference.

The movement seems silent because Amazon has opted for a brushless motor. During video conferences, the camera uses digital zoom to bring the user into the picture more prominently.

The new Echo Show 10 determines its position through the interaction of microphones and the camera on the edge of the screen. According to Amazon, it was expressly careful not to collect too much information. The software is trained to only recognize the contours of a person, but no details. All the computing work for this is done exclusively on the device itself, says Nedim Fresko, who is responsible for Alexa devices at Amazon. The camera can be covered with a sliding flap.

The downgraded image recognition means that the Echo Show does not differentiate between individual users. “We don't do face recognition or anything like that,” says Fresko. This can be tricky in a household with several people: if you leave the device's field of vision, it rotates until the camera hits the next person, regardless of who it is.

Finding the right balance when adjusting the viewing angle was also a challenge, says Fresko. At the beginning of development, the Echo Show was made to tinker with the slightest movement. Now the device is waiting for major changes.

Because the software notices that the person is no longer in the field of vision and looks for him. Amazon has already trained the software to recognize a hand movement in front of the camera, but that doesn't always work, admits Fresko.

The Echo Show 10 can also be used via the Alexa app to look into the room from elsewhere. But the same thing remains with this live broadcast: You can neither take pictures nor do the device have automated security camera functions.

Despite all its limitations, the Echo Show opens a new chapter in the interaction between the networked home and its residents: a device that uses its camera to react to human actions.

And it couldn't be the only one of its kind. According to financial service Bloomberg, Apple was also working on a similar concept with an iPad tablet on a mechanical arm. And then there has been speculation for some time about Amazon's plans for a household robot.

Until then, the Echo Show 10 (3rd generation) will be available in anthracite and white. The pursuer display costs 249.99 euros. The sale is currently only to Germany and Austria.