Alexa was the star of last year’s CES. It looks like we might have a repeat performance this year.
Today Whirlpool and Amazon announced a partnership that will bring Alexa functionality to a range of Whirlpool Wi-Fi enabled appliances including ovens, refrigerators, and washing machines. Today’s announcement builds upon the momentum gained by Amazon over the past year, which saw the company’s voice assistant adopted by everyone from GE to ChefSteps in the kitchen. With Whirpool, the company adds the world’s largest appliance manufacturer to their Alexa partner list.
This is not the first time Amazon and Whirlpool joined together to make CES news. Last year the appliance maker announced Amazon Dash integration with their dishwasher and washing machines. The announcement was part of a broad set of connected home announcements that featured connectivity. However, this year’s partnership with Alexa could resonate more significantly than past years by tapping into the excitement around voice control and Amazon’s own connected virtual assistants. Amazon sold out of their voice assistant powered Echos over the holidays, a sign of growing interest around the products.
This news, alongside other announcements such as GE’s partnership with Nest Protect, shows how the smart home industry is evolving beyond one focused primarily on basic automation and security to ones becoming part of the fabric of the home and the home’s systems. In appliance makers, Amazon finds ready partners who want to add incremental value to their connected products while also finding ways to convince consumers to upgrade faster than the traditional 7-10 years.
Looking forward, it could be interesting to see how Whirlpool combines its effort with Amazon with other third party platform provider partners such as Innit. This summer the company announced that Innit would power a number of new products, starting with its high-end Jenn-Air brand. One can envision how more powerful sensor-powered ovens and fridges using Innit’s platform could become integrated with Alexa skills in the future.