Of all of the devices that Amazon has released, the one that most resembles the Ubi, the device we created seven years ago, is the Echo Flex. It’s a low cost version of the Echo that plugs directly into an outlet. When we were thinking about the ubiquity of voice, we had come up with the outlet as a place to put the Ubi because they were all over the place and the need for a cable would make it more difficult to just plug in the device.
Outlets are not normally the best spot for voice interaction. They’re usually tucked behind furniture or only barely above the floor. This means they’re ripe to pick up reverberations. The latter can be detrimental to speech recognition.
However, some places have outlets closer to mouth level. Bathrooms (where the Echo Flex is intended) are one place. Kitchen counters is another. However, in the kitchen, outlets are highly valuable. Better to allow for some pass through of power.
In the end, I appreciate that Amazon is providing a variety of devices. Let’s hope people won’t use the term “wall wart” for it like they did for the Ubi.