— -- Amazon quietly unveiled the Echo today, a tube-shaped device that is a hybrid between a speaker and a personal assistant.
While it lacks the lustiness or personality of Samantha, the voice assistant in the movie "Her," the Echo makes up for it in responsiveness.
Amazon said the device, which currently requires an invitation to purchase, are capable of hearing voice commands from across a crowded room due to seven microphones that can recognize voices coming from any direction. And enhanced noise cancellation lets the device still do its job as a speaker while listening like a good personal assistant would.
The Echo is even able to hear users when music is playing, Amazon said.
"Alexa" is the word that wakes up the Echo and prompts it to begin listening to commands, which can be everything from asking about the weather to requesting it blast your favorite song. The Wall Street Journal reports the Echo will also respond to "Amazon" for now, but in the future, users will have more wake-word options.
The Echo costs $199, while members of Amazon Prime who request an invitation can purchase the speaker for a limited time price of $99.