Amazon Astro: talking vacuum cleaner? Or game changer?

Amazon Astro: talking vacuum cleaner? Or game changer? 976 549 Kane Simms

Is Amazon’s latest device, Astro, the world’s first widely available house robot, just a talking Hoover? Or is there more to it?

So you probably saw by now Amazon’s latest – I want to say ‘device’, but it’s not really a device. Usually, if they release a smart speaker or Apple release a phone, you call that a ‘device’, but Astro, the in-house robot, it doesn’t feel like a device.

It’s actually a robot. The first example of an in-home robot that we’ve seen hit the market and there’s been mixed reactions.

The cynic among you might be thinking that this is just one dust-bag away from being a talking vacuum cleaner. A lot of people have been saying things like: “Well, why would I need a house robot?”, “Why would I need that? All it does is everything that Alexa already does, and I’ve already got Alexa”, “I don’t really need something to go around with a camera, checking if there’s intruders in my house or anything like that.”

But you’re missing the point. You said the same thing about the very first mobile phone when all it did was make phone calls.

“Why would I ever need to make phone calls outside of the house?”

But now look at all the things that you use your phone for and all the things that mobile phones have enabled us to do.

For years, you’ve been using software, largely centered on your mobile phone, to automate digital tasks. Astro is the very first example of something that has the potential to automate physical tasks. Tasks that you could have it complete when you’re not even there.

So what physical tasks would you have it automate?

I can see a world in future where maybe something like Astro might be picking the kids up from school or niping to the shop to get you a pint of milk or making your lunch for you.

But all of those examples are confined by what we understand now and what we do today.

What the mobile phone did, and wider availability high-speed internet in general, is it created new things that we could do.

Now, we use social media for connecting with family and friends and seeing what people are up to and being able to communicate ideas and thoughts and concepts and having access to the world’s information at the palm of your hands. That has enabled things that were previously unimaginable.

Businesses, multi-billion dollar businesses, have been built on top of it and people’s lives have completely changed.

And so try not to view Astro as a walking Hoover, minus the dust bag. Try and think of it as the very, very first version; version 0.1, of in-home companion robots that are there to make your life increasingly easier over time in ways that you can’t quite imagine yet.

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