Amazon launched this week its Fire TV Blaster, a new add-on device designed to bring voice control via Alexa-enabled Echo and Fire TV products to more devices.

The Fire TV Blaster (which will ship December 11th at a $34.95 retail price) is an IR hub that can relay spoken commands through compatible Echo and Fire TVs to certain previously non-supported products.

The far-field mic-equipped Alexa devices will be able to collect spoken commands and then send them via IR codes over the Fire TV Blaster to operate devices like soundbars, cable/satellite boxes and AV receivers.

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Amazon’s intention is extend the utility and value of Alexa hands-free voice-control to as many products in a home entertainment system as possible. This is hoped to enhance the interactive functionality and enjoyment of as many of the products in the system as possible.

Many of the products in the home entertainment system designed to be controlled by an IR remote control should be able to benefit from the new tool.

In addition, Amazon said the funcitionality of the system has been tailored and enhanced to support the needs and habits of users in various different communities and countries, so that, for example, countries that depend on specific cable services for most of their viewing will have voice operation that is tailored to those specific needs and systems, or neighborhoods and countries that still depend on over-the-air broadcasting will have an optimized control experience for that.

Amazon intends to continue to upgrade and improve the system as it learns more from the user community as well as key partners looking for direct access to viewers.

By Greg Tarr

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