Alexa Displays – Echo Show 5

Alexa Displays Echo Show 5
by Suchit Shah

Amazon just announced launch of Echo Show 5 coming this June making a new place in your house, nightstands, workplace, kitchens for Alexa adoption. Echo Show 5 features a 5.5″ (960X480) resolution 18:9 aspect ratio display available in Black and White bezel designs. Perfectly positioned between the large 10.1″ Echo Show and 2.5″ circular Echo Spot, this display serves a good value for video conferencing, showing recipes, watch news & music videos, and viewing reminders/schedule/information.

Echo Show 5 is the cheapest Alexa display product from Amazon which performs all the functions of other echo devices from playing music, control smart home devices, order things from Wholefoods & Amazon stores and launch Alexa visual skills. It can also access HIPPA-eligible health care skills or create Blueprints  skills for things like family trivia or chore assignments.

Echo Show 5 can also be used as bedside alarm clock like Echo Spot but now it has a new feature called Alexa Sunrise. A new ambient lighting mode will brighten the display by adjusting the backlighting according to the room lighting and show a sunrise animation before the alarm goes off. The display of Echo Show 5 when you don’t interact with it will turn into a personal photo frame with your Amazon Photos account. It can also connect to Facebook to play a slideshow of your photos as screensaver. The display brightness is adjusted to make the photos look more pleasant accordingly and with a new auto-brightness mode the screen would not feel too bright or too dark ever.

North Focals

The new Echo Show 5 is not the only product launched this year with Alexa displays. North (formerly Thalmic Labs) had announced their pre-orders for Focals; a pair of custom-built glasses with a transparent, holographic display last year. And this summer they will be in San Francisco with their pop-up shop – North Mobile Showroom experience for everyone to try out their glasses. Earlier they dropped the prices and now selling non-prescription lens glasses for $599 while a pair of prescription glasses adds $200. North acquired around 230 patents & applications behind the cancelled Intel Vaunt glasses earlier this year thus having a strong portfolio of IP covering from new techniques, user interfaces and ways to interact the display with glasses.

Both Focals and Vaunt had the same basic idea: use a tiny laser (VCSEL) embedded in the stem of your glasses to project a reflected image directly into your retina. The laser beam scanning generates about 300X300 pixel resolution image with about 15-degrees of field of view on a holographic film embedded on the right eye lens of the glasses. The display can show you date/time, temperature, weather forecast, messages, shopping lists, reminders, transit schedules, appointments, walking directions and many more Alexa triggered useful information.

Alexa Visual Computing Everywhere

Amazon envisions a world where Alexa is everywhere omnipresent to serve us, delight us and provide information whenever we ask for it. As we shift to an ambient computing environment, their vision is that customers will simply say, “Alexa” without having to think and the information should be readily available. But voice computing won’t make the graphical user interface obsolete, said Alexa Engine VP Al Lindsay.

“Both the Show and the Spot have screens — and the Fire TV, for that matter, which has Alexa in it. When I think about voice, I think it will revolutionize in a natural way the way in which we interface with technology and devices, but it’s not going to replace the graphical user interface,” Lindsay said at  VB Summit 2017, in Berkeley, California.

As I mentioned before the natural convergence of “voice first devices” v/s “screen first devices” with Alexa is expanding the human-machine communication with both visual & spoken interaction. A well integrated system of voice computing along with displays can transform user experiences beyond our current experiences with personal computers, smartphones and wearables.

  • Voice is the most efficient modality for input commands allowing users to interact hands-free and multi-task bypassing the needs of complex navigational menus & spatial limitations.
  • Display is the most efficient modality for output allowing large amount of information at same time without burdening human attention or memory. Visual scanning of data is faster than sequential information access with other modes of output communication.

Using the Alexa Presentation Language (APL), developers can easily add visuals to skills and build engaging multimodal voice experiences in a responsive way, while tailoring the skill to each device to enhance the customer experience.

About the author

Suchit Shah
Suchit Shah
Display Lead at | Website

A curious mind trying to build products for people to help visualize information and entertain....

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