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Amazon held its annual hardware event on Thursday, unveiling a slew of new products and upgrades.

While Alexa isn't quite ready to prepare your tax returns or take the dog for a walk, she is getting both smarter and a lot more observant.

Shoppers outside of Amazon go store.

Image Source: Amazon

Here's The Rundown Of Key Products
We'll start slow-a new line of Echo devices will feature a redesigned spherical look and "premium, adaptive sound" from Dolby.

The new Echo Dot Kids Edition comes with animal print designs and a feature called "Reading Sidekick," which can "take turns reading with your child, providing encouragement when they are reading well and offering support when they struggle."  "Parenting-as-a-service," investors will call it.  

Amazon also introduced a Ring Car Alarm and Car Cam:

  • The alarm can monitor for impact, break-ins, and send alerts to your phone via the Ring app.  Handy for when someone dings your car in the grocery store parking lot.  
  • Drivers can say "Alexa, I'm being pulled over" and the dash cam will begin recording. 

Fans of privacy, here's your trigger warning.

Amazon's new "Always Home Cam" is an indoor security drone that can fly autonomously on pre-set flight paths to record what is happening in your home.  Suggested use cases include checking if the "curling iron was left on" or recording a break-in. 

Strategy Backdrop
The smorgasbord of new product releases is part of Amazon's broadening hardware strategy:

  • In late August, Amazon unveiled a health and wellness tracker called Halo that tracks users' body-fat percentage, heart rate, and emotions. 
  • Amazon's $1 billion acquisition of Ring (originally a Shark Tank contestant) in 2018 set the stage for its push into home security.

Unlike Apple, which takes a highly manicured approach to new product introduction, "Amazon takes these events as opportunities to basically do market research about a product's viability," said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures.

The Takeaway: For big tech companies, it's all about building the ecosystem.  For Bezos, that includes eyes and ears throughout the house.