Amazon Cambridge Launch (3)

Amazon has opened a new research facility in the British university city of Cambridge with a wall made almost entirely out of Amazon Echo devices.

The new “development centre” will be home to about 400 engineers who will work on Amazon’s Alexa assistant and drone innovation.

Doug Gurr, Amazon’s UK country manager, in a statement: “The exciting and innovative new products and services developed here will benefit millions of customers around the world, complementing the work that goes on in our other development centres in London and Edinburgh.”

He added: “I hope this new building will contribute towards our global innovation story with voice recognition, streaming video, machine learning and drone technology all being developed right here in the UK.”

Amazon is intending to hire 5,000 people in the UK in 2017, which would bring its workforce up to 24,000 people.

The office is well lit and full of quirky furniture and art.

Staff in the office will work on Amazon devices like the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor security camera. They’ll also work on Amazon Alexa, which is the brain that sits inside a number of Amazon devices.

The office lacks some of the weird and playful additions that can be found in other tech company offices. Google, for example, has a slide at its headquarters in Mountain View, California.

“We want the serendipitous, come-and-have-a-cup-of-coffee-for-a-chat environment, so we have open staircases between floors,” Gurr told The Guardian. “But we’ll tend to focus on things that generate hard work and innovation rather than stuff that might be perceived as a bit more gimmicky.”

And they’ll work on Prime Air, which is Amazon’s ambitious drone delivery project.

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