Amazon’s Echo speakers let you use your voice to control some smart home products including thermostats, locks, outlets, or lights. But the C by GE Sol kills two birds with one stone: it’s a smart lamp with Amazon’s Alexa voice service built in.
The C by GE Sol can do pretty much anything an Echo speaker can… but since the voice assistant is built into a funny-looking lamp, you can also turn the light on or off, adjust colors or brightness, or view interesting lighting effects while Alexa is listening, answering, or processing your request.
First unveiled in December, GE has now announced that the smart lamp will be available for purchase in September, 2017 for $200.
Customers who sign up as an early adopter will get first dibs and a 20 percent discount (bringing the price down to about $160, which makes the C by GE Sol a little cheaper than an Amazon Echo, but a little more expensive than a Google Home speaker).
What makes this smart lamp unusual is that you don’t need any sort of smart home hub to use it with Alexa. Since Amazon’s voice service is baked in, you can use voice commands to control the lamp and to get answers to questions, play music, order products from Amazon, or get news updates, among other things.
If you do have other compatible smart home lighting or other products, you can also use the speaker to control them.
The circle design of the lamp’s LED lighting also allows the C by GE Sol to do some neat things: for example, you can enable a clock function that illuminates the portions of the lamp ring where clock hands would normally be.
GE also includes a “sleep light” feature that adjusts the tone of the light, with a “warm light” used before bedtime, and a “cool, vibrant” light in the morning.
I can see that eventually everything is going to have Alexa baked in. It may get to be difficult to find stuff without an always on microphone. Us tinfoil hat types are going to find this unsettling.
Eventually, you tinfoil hat types will eventually come to realize that technology is not the issue, and never was. The KGB and Stasi ran two of the most oppressive surveillance states in history, and their surveillance technology was paleolithic compared to what we have today.
If our society isn’t strong enough to resist the implementation of a surveillance state like those of Soviet Russia or East Germany, then it won’t matter how many microphone enabled devices you keep our of your house.
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