When Amazon first released its Echo device, its benefits were immediately clear. From ordering a taxi to managing your shopping list, voice technology was primed to make the practical aspects of life easier in every way. In the kitchen, the Echo was the perfect device for busy cooks who needed to set a timer or convert a measurement hands-free. Just ask Alexa. Not only that, but Alexa was on hand to provide recipe inspiration through a variety of skills, including an offering from Jamie Oliver.
The Echo was just the beginning though. In June 2017, Amazon offered the Echo Show for purchase in the US. The Echo Show has one distinct advantage over the original Echo - it has a screen.
Food Is Visual
The most popular cookbooks have long included glossy photographs of mouthwatering food. Food blogs draw readers in with their professionally shot images. BuzzFeed Tasty drove over 85 million Facebook engagements on video content alone over a three-month period in late 2016. What we can take from all of this is that food is visual. People like to see the finished product before they try it themselves. For those who have grown up with screens, the visual aspect is still important. That's not to say that people aren't embracing voice. They are. And with the Echo Show, Amazon has found the sweet spot between voice and visual.
Hands-Free in the Kitchen
59% of millennials use their smart devices in the kitchen, but there are drawbacks. The most obvious of these drawbacks is that cooking can be messy. Checking how many eggs you need to complete your dish is not ideal if you've already cracked one. Scrolling through the recipe on your phone or tablet is not an option if you have egg white on your hands. The Echo Show solves this issue by allowing you to ask Alexa.
Never Forget a Step
Another benefit of the Echo Show's combination of voice and screen is that while Alexa will give you the answers, the screen gives users a visual reminder. For those with kids and the distractions that come with them, cooking isn't necessarily a linear activity. And for those who like a little distraction in the kitchen, Alexa allows you to play music while using a recipe skill.
Brands Are Jumping On Board With The Echo Show
Big names in the food world like AllRecipes, Campbell's and Food Network have already recognised the benefits of this new technology, and have released Echo Show enabled Alexa Skills. The content ranges from images to celebrity chef led recipe videos. While voice technology is still essentially in its infancy, the Echo Show provides a clear method for retailers and brands to engage with their customers in the kitchen. Brands can now be involved in every aspect of the cooking process, from choosing the recipe and ordering the ingredients right through to producing the finished dish. It's only a matter of time before more big brands jump on board with the Echo Show.
Amazon's announcement that the Echo Show will be available in the UK from November, and rumours that Google is working on the "Manhattan", a tabletop smart screen to rival the Echo Show, mean that these game-changing devices may be on a fast-track into people's kitchens. Time will tell what their effect on e-commerce will be.