Amazon’s new Fire TV Blaster is built to work in tandem with other Amazon devices to expand Alexa voice controls within the home.
The infrared device pairs with a Fire TV streaming device and an Amazon Echo to extend voice control to TVs, soundbars, cable boxes and A/V receivers, allowing users to turn TVs on and off, switch inputs, control volume and change cable TV channels.
“We believe that voice is one of the most natural ways for customers to interact with a TV. Our customers also use Alexa 8x more when using a Fire TV device with hands-free control, such as Fire TV Cube,” Amazon said. “Fire TV Blaster is an affordable way for customers with an Echo and Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick 4K or Fire TV (3rd Gen) to bring additional voice control to their living room set-up.”
The device, which comes out on Dec. 11, costs $34.99 on its own or $79.99 bundled together with a Fire TV Stick 4K and an Echo Dot.
Since launching its Fire TV Cube, Amazon has been growing the number of video app partners that take advantage of hands-free controls with the device. At last month’s NAB Show New York, Jason Parrish, head of product management at Amazon Fire TV, said that his company has more than double the number of Fire TV Cube partners since launching the first edition of the device last year.
Amazon is looking at ways to grow consumption even further by evolving voice commands to make them more natural and contextual. The company introduced the “Follow-Up” feature to make the microphones stay open after certain commands so users don’t have to continually say the awake word to their devices.
In September, Amazon said that its Fire TV platform had surpassed 37 million active users worldwide.