Amazon Reportedly Eyeing ‘Smart Home’ Devices

E-commerce giant Amazon is reportedly interested in developing new Internet-connected devices for "smart homes" like one-button devices for ordering supplies as well as wearables. Aided by $1.2 million in tax credits from the state of California, Amazon is planning a $55 million expansion of its Sunnyvale and Cupertino innovation laboratories, according to a report in Reuters, citing anonymous sources aware of the plans.

The state-funding agreement, approved by the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development in June, is with A2Z Development Center, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon. A2Z's businesses include Amazon Lab 126, a research and development venture launched in 2004.

Under the terms of the tax credit agreement, A2Z aims to bring the number of its employees to 3,757 -- a 27 percent increase -- over the next five years. The agreement describes the facilities as "lab[s] of innovation, research and development" that produce hardware and software for a variety of consumer devices.

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Amazon Lab126 has helped to develop such devices as the Fire HDX tablet, the Kindle Voyage e-reader, the Amazon Fire TV streaming media player and the Amazon Fire Phone, the company's first smartphone.

Google has been actively acquiring companies that make technologies for the so-called "Internet of Things," which would enable network connections and automation for devices ranging from coffee makers to washing machines to home security systems. This year alone, Google paid $3.2 billion for the smart-thermostat developer Nest Labs and also acquired video monitoring company Dropcam and the artificial intelligence firm DeepMind Technologies, among many other companies.

Meanwhile, in June, Apple unveiled its iOS 8-based framework -- dubbed HomeKit -- for connecting and communicating with household devices.

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Many companies are eyeing the potential for, say, smart refrigerators that remind owners that they are running...

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