Amazon is expanding its secretive hardware operations unit, Lab126, in order to test and develop Internet-of-Things gadgets like smart household devices and wearables.
The enormous online retailer will increase hiring by 27%, adding close to 4,000 people and $55 million in funding to their Silicon Valley-based Lab126 division over the next five years, according to Reuters, which learned of Amazon’s plans from a “little known government document.”
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Lab126 was responsible for developing the Kindle, Amazon’s signature device, as well as the Fire phone. Sources say the company has its eye on the Internet of Things and is developing a Wi-Fi device that would let customers order household products like detergent from Amazon with the press of a button.
The government document discovered by Reuters suggests Amazon hopes to develop more connected products that would alert customers when it is time to replace filters (easily ordered on Amazon) or schedule regular maintenance on household appliances. With Amazon shares down almost 20% this year, and on the heels of a disappointing reception to the Fire phone, the company is likely looking to stay relevant and competitive with Apple and Google, who are also exploring intelligent household devices.
“We will continue to invent and create new features, services and products, and to support this innovation. Lab126 is also growing very quickly,” Amazon spokeswoman Kinley Pearsall told Reuters.