Amazon is looking to expand their smart home portfolio in 2017

Whaddya know: The long-rumored kitchen computer from Amazon may be real.

One can’t be blamed for having doubts, because ever since the device code-named Project Kabinet was first rumored last year, info – in typical Amazon fashion – has been scarce.

And while I recently speculated that Alexa’s fast growing library of kitchen-centric skills could constitute a virtual kitchen computer, it looks like Amazon may have something a little more literal in mind.

Back when I first wrote about Project Kabinet for Forbes in August of 2015, I speculated about what such a product would be:

If you take all the pieces of Amazon’s strategy to enter the kitchen – Dash, Alexa/Echo, and Amazon Fresh (the company’s home grocery delivery service) – they are interesting but disjointed pieces of the same puzzle, one in which Amazon is trying to figure out how to bring all the things we do in a kitchen into Amazon’s orbit. Whether it’s discovery of food or recipes, restocking our shelves or cooking itself, Amazon knows technology will have a bigger part to play in all of these in the future. Kabinet will likely attempt to unify all of these activities together and manage them using one device, by not only incorporating technology from all of these efforts but also integrating with a variety of third-party appliances to manage all of these activities for them.

In short, Kabinet will likely be Amazon’s physical manifestation of a kitchen operating system

How does that compare to the Bloomberg report? Here’s how they describe the new Amazon device:

The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a product that has yet to be announced.

In Techcrunch’s report, they speculate that the new touchscreen Echo was designed, in part, to be “tilted to different viewing angles for easier use in the kitchen.”

While it’s hard to say if this new effort from Amazon would come close to the futuristic kitchen computer concept that unifies the different experiences of shopping, delivery, prep and cooking that I described in my Forbes piece, it’s intriguing that the company sees enough potential to create a device tailored towards the kitchen.

At last month’s Smart Kitchen Summit, Charlie Kindel talked about how the kitchen is the likely landing place for many – if not a majority – of Echos, and with over 100 Alexa food and drink skills alone, voice is rapidly emerging as the future interface for the kitchen. Throw in Amazon’s efforts to kill the middle of the grocery store with Dash, and this new Echo makes more and more sense.