Amazon Head of Devices: Company Focused on Real-World Tech, Not Metaverse

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Amazon.

com Inc. is focused more on technologies that affect the real world, rather than the so-called metaverse.

The e-commerce giant’s ambitions, for now, are to expand the capabilities of its devices arsenal, including with home robots and ambient computing, said

David Limp,

senior vice president of devices and services at Amazon. Mr. Limp appeared at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival on Thursday.

“I really do fundamentally believe, and I think it’s what we’re spending a lot of time on in my organization, that we want to enhance the here and now,” Mr. Limp said. “I want to try and work on technologies that bring people’s heads up—get them to enjoy the real world.”

David Limp, senior vice president for Amazon’s devices, discusses the company’s Project Kuiper satellite internet service and its potential for lower costs and better bandwidth, at the WSJ Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Andy Davis for WSJ

Amazon has been working on such projects for years, beginning with the Kindle e-reader to its success with the Alexa virtual assistant and, recently, robots.

The company last year introduced a home robot named Astro, which works like a mobile Alexa, performs home security services and can deliver items in a rear container. The Journal’s personal technology columnist Joanna Stern reviewed Astro in April, concluding that while the robot was adorable by nature, it didn’t serve a clear purpose. Mr. Limp said Thursday that Astro represented the company’s first robot iteration, and that he expects in the next decade for every home to have some form of a robot.

Amazon has in recent years attempted to insert Alexa into more of its devices and services. Last September, Amazon launched its own televisions that feature Alexa. The launch included two lineups of its Amazon branded Fire TVs. During the company’s annual devices event last fall, its releases included updates to its Echo family—including a 15-inch smart frame—and Ring security products. Amazon typically releases a slew of products at the annual event, some of which don’t ever make it to a widespread consumer base.

Mr. Limp on Thursday also discussed the company’s ambitions for its proposed fleet of internet satellites named Project Kuiper. Amazon has been racing to catch up with SpaceX to send broadband satellites into low-Earth orbit in a bet that they can compete with traditional broadband providers. Amazon in April said it secured up to 83 planned launches that would ferry satellites to orbit during a five-year period.

Mr. Limp said the company believes there are hundreds of millions of people that could use the technology not only in remote areas of the world but in locations around the U.S. SpaceX has jumped to a lead by building a fleet of satellites in orbit.

Asked how Project Kuiper is different from SpaceX’s Starlink service, Mr. Limp said there is room for multiple broadband satellite companies, but that Amazon’s later start has enabled it to take advantage of “new technologies” that may lower costs for customers, though he acknowledged Amazon is coming behind SpaceX.

“We have nothing flying in space yet.” he said. “We have a lot to do, it’s risky, and a lot to prove over the next couple of years.”

Write to Sebastian Herrera at [email protected]

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Appeared in the May 20, 2022, print edition as ‘Amazon Keeps Focus On the ‘Here and Now’.’

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