Amazon invests in a company that makes Bluetooth-enabled tags for those things you’re always misplacing.
So you’ve misplaced your wallet or your keys once again.
Soon, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant may be able to help you unearth them.
Launched last June, Amazon Echo is a wireless speaker that does your bidding through the built-in Alexa voice assistant. You can ask Alexa to find information, check your calendar, get traffic reports, announce the latest news and sports scores, set up alarms and control certain smart-home appliances.
Amazon is expanding Alexa’s repertoire by pouring between $250,000 and $500,000 into a company called TrackR, Reuters reported Monday, citing a source familiar with the matter. TrackR offers a technology that can locate missing items via Bluetooth. Team up Echo with TrackR, and you’d be able to ask Alexa to find any item tagged with a TrackR device.
Voice-activated technology has been catching on with gadget makers, offering a more natural and hands-free way to search for information or activate software than the typing methods we’ve long relied on. Alexa is just one of a crop of voice assistants that also includes Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana. Echo takes the concept further by integrating third-party products and services, so you can, for instance, tell Alexa to order a pizza from Domino’s or hail a ride from Uber.
The integration between Echo and TrackR was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this past January.
TrackR works by using a coin-sized Bluetooth-enabled tag called Bravo, which you can attach to a wallet or other item. A single tag costs $30, though you can save money by buying them in packs of two or four. Can’t find a certain tagged item? Just fire up the TrackR mobile app on your smartphone, and the app will lead you to the missing item. The partnership with Echo will give TrackR voice capability as well as help you find items through Alexa, Reuters said.
Neither Amazon not TrackR would confirm the size of the investment to Reuters. But the money came from Amazon’s $100 million “Alexa Fund,” which invests in products and technologies that expand Alexa’s skill set.
CNET contacted Amazon and TrackR for comment and will update the story with any further information.