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Added 6 July, 2015

Trend alert: Here come voice-activated personal assistants

Remember Ask Jeeves, the decade-old search engine with a butler mascot who offered to personally assist you with your query? Fast forward to 2015 and that metaphoric butler is taking on concrete forms in the guise of in-home robotic assistants. One potential heavy-hitter in this field will be Amazon Echo, one of the first widely-available gadgets for home automation and robotics. The Echo audibly responds to a “wake word” selected by the user and connects to the cloud, drawing on the immense stockpile of human knowledge to provide answers to a wide variety of questions, all by voice. Amazon is also pitching the Echo as a high-quality music speaker, alarm clock, list creator and more. Because it's always on and responds to voice commands, Echo is set to be a game-changer in homes around the world, eliminating challenges like the need to swipe through recipe pages on a tablet with hands messy from cooking. The big picture is the automation of the home and the “internet of things” on devices that will populate kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms. Watch this space.

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