After tackling the tablet and smartphone sectors, Amazon is now pursuing "smart" gadgets for the home that allow customers to place orders with a single button. The news arrives by way of a government document retrieved by unnamed sources, which report that Amazon plans to beef up its Lab126 division – the same one that produced the Kindle Fire and Fire phone – with additional employees by 2019.
According to the sources, the government documents contain an agreement made with California back in June that will see Amazon receiving $1.2 million in tax breaks. Sources told Reuters that Amazon plans to invest around $55 million in Lab126's operations in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, an expansion that is expected to help Amazon better compete with Google and its Android OS in the home gadget market.
Sources claim that Amazon is currently testing a wireless device that could be installed in a kitchen or closet. With the press of a single button, users could order household products like paper towels, detergents and so on. This seems to tie into Amazon Fresh (opens in new tab), which is currently in beta in Southern and Northern California and the Seattle area.
One of the Reuters sources indicated that Amazon is looking to create a connected home environment that includes gadgets for detecting when air conditioner filters need to be replaced and when a washing machine is off balance. These connected machines, while pricey now, could save consumers money in the long run, preventing possible expenses due to repairs that could have been avoided.
Earlier this year, Google announced its plans to purchase Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in cash. The company said that Nest's "smart" Learning Thermostat is a "consistent best seller," and that the new subsidiary's goal is to reinvent important devices in the home. Nest Protect, a smart fire alarm that can send messages to smartphones, is also a best-seller.
Competing with Google and Amazon is Apple and its HomeKit framework in iOS 8. According to Apple, this platform is used for communicating with and controlling connected devices in the consumer's home. One of the first devices to take advantage of HomeKit is the August Smart Lock (opens in new tab), which provides keyless entry into a home or office.
The race to fill consumer homes with connected devices seems to be on, and Amazon appears to have no intention of falling into last place. Amazon's Lab126 division consisted of nearly 3,000 full-time employees as of fiscal 2013, and the company plans to add nearly 4,000 more by the end of 2019.