In 2016, Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa was everywhere at CES, proving to be one of the show's most popular bandwagons. Now, after a highly successful year that saw Amazon sell millions of Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, more people are chatting up Alexa than ever before -- and the rest of the tech world wants in.
That's why it came as no shock that Alexa was -- again -- just about everywhere we looked at. And it wasn't just products promising to work with Alexa; we saw a number of new products with full Alexa controls built right in, something Amazon smartly made very simple to do.
As a result, we've got dozens of fresh Alexa announcements to tell you about (easily enough for Alexa to sit atop our smart home scoreboard). Here's everything we saw this week:
- Let's start with the LG Smart InstaView Refrigerator. Aside from its 29-inch translucent touchscreen and interior fridge cams, it also boasts full Alexa functionality. It's literally one of the biggest Alexa products of CES.
- Of course, Ford is a pretty big name, too, and its big announcement this week was the addition of in-vehicle Alexa controls for cars running the Sync 3 voice platform.
- Incipio jumped in with Alexa, too, debuting both a smart power strip and a smart light switch that the virtual assistant can control.
- Nightingale, maker of a smart sleep-aid system that found success on Kickstarter, announced that its product will work with Alexa once it starts shipping out in February. You'll be able to tell her to launch your goodnight scene, or to adjust the brightness of the built-in nightlight.
- The eye-catching C by GE Lamp with Alexa is basically an Amazon Echo with a halo-like light fixture growing out of its head. We first heard about it at the end of last year, and we got our first look at it in Las Vegas -- although, disappointingly, all we got to see was a non-functional 3D-printed prototype. Aside from asking Alexa to dim the light or brighten it, you'll be able to give other Alexa commands and set the light to wake you up in the morning. At least, you will when it's up and running.
- The crowdfunded smart gesture-control device Bixi is back with a second-gen controller, and one of the main new features is an integration with Alexa that adds optional voice controls. Way to double down on hands-free interaction with in-home tech.
- The Omaker Wow Speaker takes advantage of the fact that Amazon will happily allow third-party products to code Alexa directly into their devices. It's one of the latest examples of an Alexa-enabled speaker not made by Amazon.
- Same goes for the Lenovo Smart Assistant Speaker, which comes in multiple colors and packs Alexa's full intelligence. Starting price: $129 -- or about $50 less than the Echo.
- The Onkyo VC-FLX1 is yet another third-party, Echo-esque device with built-in Alexa controls debuting at CES this week. And, unlike those others, it also includes a built-in security camera.
- Hungry? Alexa can now order specific menu items from businesses that work with Amazon Restaurants in over 20 cities. You have to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, though.
- The Samsung Powerbot VR7000 is the Korean conglomerate's latest rival for the Roomba, and starting this year, you'll be able to begin a cleaning cycle by asking Alexa. That makes it the second robot vacuum that Alexa can control -- .
- On the entertainment front, Dish is teaching Alexa to channel-surf with new controls for Hopper DVR boxes. You'll be able to say things like "Alexa, turn on CNN," "Alexa, play Top Chef" or even, "Alexa, find me a movie with Steve Buscemi in it."
- The Ubtech Robotics Lynx is a lovable robot that gives Alexa a body, arms, legs and a face. It can do all sorts of things that a typical smart speaker can't do. We're calling it "Alexa's best disguise yet."
- The Hubble Hugo is another robotic representation of Alexa -- and it uses cameras to detect emotions. The main function: identifying when your baby is crying and acting accordingly.
- Speaking of entertainment, new televisions from Seiki, Westinghouse and Element will be the first to offer native support for Alexa-powered voice remote searches.
- The AI-enhanced inbox simplifier Notion demonstrated a new Alexa skill this week: Enable it, and you'll be able to ask the virtual assistant for a quick summary of the most important info from your inbox.
- Sensory, the developer behind the always-listening tech in devices such as Samsung's Galaxy phones, is bringing a feature called "VoiceGenie" to Bluetooth headphones that'll let you add your AI assistant of choice -- Alexa included -- right into your ear.
- The WeMo Mini, Belkin's newest smart plug, will follow suit with its predecessors and sync up with Alexa, letting you tell her to turn whatever's plugged into it on or off. It doesn't do anything that the first-gen WeMo Switches won't -- it's just the same product in a much smaller package that won't block adjacent outlets.
- Perhaps more interestingly, the long-awaited WeMo Dimmer Switch is heading to retail shelves this year. Instead of just turning things on and off, it'll let Alexa fade your lights up and down, too. It's also promising to fix flickering bulbs by letting you adjust the switch's dimmable range, and it'll let you select how bright the lights should be when they come on at different times of day.
- iDevices has another Alexa-compatible smart switch that's new this year. Its sole purpose: turning other iDevices switches on and off.
- First Alert has a sensor that'll track temperature and humidity conditions in your child's bedroom, along with serving as a carbon monoxide detector. Now, thanks to a new integration with Alexa, you'll be able to ask her for a quick report on those environmental conditions.
- Here's another new kid-friendly Alexa gadget: the Aristotle by Nabi. It's a fully functioning Alexa speaker with a second assistant named Aristotle built in as well. Aside from automatically using lullabies to try to ease small kids back to sleep and logging wet diapers, Aristotle claims to be especially adept at understanding kids' questions. CNET senior editor (and new father) Sean Hollister says it might be "the most exciting thing toymaker Mattel has ever produced."
- While we're on the subject, the C-Way Meemo is another Alexa speaker designed specifically for kids. The key feature here? Improved parental controls that let you take charge of what your kids get to listen to.
- If you're interested in Alexa-powered home security, then take a look at the new all-in-one smart security gadget from Somfy. Aside from packing a suite of sensors and an HD camera, the device will work with Alexa, among other partners.
- ADT Pulse is another big security integration that's new for Alexa. Starting this month, you'll be able to tell Amazon's virtual assistant to arm or disarm your system, or even to lock your doors.
- As for appliances, we learned that the Coway Airmega Smart Air Purifier will soon work with Alexa, so you'll be able to ask her about the air quality in your home. If anything's amiss, you'll be able to have her to turn the Airmega on, or to crank it up to full blast.
- Whirlpool announced that its entire suite of connected appliances will sync up with Alexa this year -- that'll let you give commands and ask questions like, "Alexa, start the washer," or "Alexa, did I leave the oven on?" It's essentially the same set of tricks we saw in 2016 from GE's line of Geneva-enabled smart appliances.
- If you're using the Hydrao Smart Showerhead to cut your water consumption, you'll now be able to learn from Alexa how much water you've actually saved.
- Need a new bedside charging station for your devices? You might consider Dok Talk, which debuted an Alexa-enabled five-device charging station this week.
- The Brinks Array smart lock we first saw at CES a year ago is getting ready to launch in May, and when it does, it'll include Alexa support that'll let you lock it with a voice command.
reading•Here are all of the new Alexa devices and skills of CES
Jan 8•Use your Apple Watch to control select Whirlpool appliances
May 31•LG ProBeam is a $1500, crazy-bright portable laser projector
May 18•ZenFone AR scores a first
May 11•TCL C-Series steps up Roku TV's style and size, starts at $700