Amazon Echo: The Star Trek-inspired speaker that reads weather forecasts, requests car pick-ups and checks your door's locked

Amazon's voice-controlled AI speaker launches in the UK, but what can it do?

The Amazon Echo will be on sale on 28th September in the UK

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Amazon's virtual assistant echo speakers will become available in the UK, Austria and Germany in a matter of days, the company has confirmed.

The news that the AI speaker will be available from September 28 will delight Amazon fans and techno geeks everywhere.

But what exactly can the device, which was previously only available in the US, do?

Well, it has the ability to answer questions through voice control, and can also control other devices which are connected to the internet.

If you connect it to devices such as smart door locks, you can even ask it if you've locked your door, and it can be connected to thermostats to help you around the home.

In total it has more than 3,000 skills. As well as the usual stuff, like playing music and reading audio-books, it can give you travel updates, provide recipes, check weather forecasts and request car pick-ups. It's able to link to other third-party services, such as Uber and Spotify. 

The reason it has taken so long to go on sale in other countries is because experts wanted to make sure it could understand local accents.

There's actually a choice of two speakers in the UK and Germany, the original Echo and the Dot. The device was inspired by the voice-controlled computer on the USS Enterprise, which is the spaceship in Star Trek.

The original piece is a cylindrical mono speaker with seven microphones. It automatically listens when its name 'Alexa' is mentioned, or an alternative waking word.

The Dot is similar to a hockey puck. Whilst it has a similar voice-activated microphone, it has a smaller speaker, and can be connected to the original Echo to extend it into other rooms.

The Amazon Echo will be available from 28th September and costs £149.99, there is also a discount for Prime members who order the product before Friday.

The Dot will be released on 28th October and costs £49.99, but can be bought at a discount price in packs of six or 12.