Amazon surprises with new device, a voice assistant

Amazon announces a personal assistant for the home

Amazon just revealed its latest product.

On Thursday the ecommerce giant introduced a new hardware product called Echo, which is basically a 9-inch tall cylinder device that acts as an artificially intelligent assistant and a high-end speaker. The company announced the new device via Twitter.

"Introducing Amazon Echo. Always ready, connected, and fast. Just ask," Amazon said in a tweet.

According to Amazon's website, the device provides information, music, news, weather and can be completely controlled by the user's voice. It is always turned on and responds to command after prompted by being called "Alexa."

The site claims the device is continually learning and adds functionalities over time. The device runs on Amazon's Web Services, so it's brain is always in the cloud, according to the website.

"The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences," the company states on its website.

Echo can be used to control Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio and TuneIN, but can also be linked via bluetooth to play Spotify, iTunes or Pandora.

Echo is priced at $199 for non-Amazon Prime members or $99 for Prime members. It is only available via invitation, which can be requested on its website.

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The device can also be controlled while you are away via its mobile app.

By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.