Amazon's Echo speaker is always listening and ready to field voice commands, no button pressing needed.

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Amazon's new speaker Echo has a Siri-like smart assistant that is always listening

More smart devices like thermostats and speakers are connecting to the Internet

In the future you could walk into a room and give commands without touching anything

CNN  — 

What if, instead of picking up a smartphone or touching a mouse, you could just say, “Remind me to buy shampoo,” “Play some bluegrass music,” or “How many moons does Saturn have?” in the middle of your living room?

Last week, Amazon unveiled an unusual product, Echo. It’s a $199 stand-alone smart speaker with a splash of Siri and no screen. It has a far-field microphone that can hear a voice clearly from across a room. Utter the keyword “Alexa,” and the speaker’s virtual assistant springs to life, ready to answer questions, provide news updates and set personal reminders.

It takes the intelligence and voice-recognition of Siri and puts it someplace unexpected, inside a smart home device. Even when it’s alseep, Echo is still listening for the trigger phrase that will turn it on and start streaming your voice to the cloud.

If a music speaker can listen and reply to your voice, why not a connected thermostat like Nest? In a few years, we will fill our homes with “smart” clocks, refrigerators, TVs and security systems. Together, they’ll help voice assistants break out of single devices to be available anywhere in your house, car or workplace.