Amazon's secret lab is working on smart

CBS Interactive

Amazon's secretive hardware unit, known as Lab126, is busy working on new smart-home gadgets and will require some additional hands, according to a new report.


Amazon is currently planning to boost its employee base at Lab126, based in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, Calif., by at least 27 percent over the next five years, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a government document and sources who claim to have knowledge of the plans. If the plan is followed, the employee base for Amazon's Lab126 will jump to at least 3,757 employees by 2019, according to Reuters. The division currently houses around 3,000 employees.


Lab126 is the starting point for some of Amazon's most popular hardware products, including the Kindle and Kindle Fire. It's also where the company conceived of and developed its Amazon Fire Phone.


Lab126 employees are currently working on smart-home devices, according to Reuters. It's not immediately clear what kind of products are in the works, but Amazon is reportedly envisioning products for the home that would connect to the Internet and provide greater user control. These devices could even include features that allow for one-click buying when supplies -- such as dish soap or laundry detergent -- run low.


Amazon's Lab126 might also be looking into wearable devices, Reuters' sources claimed, that could compete with the likes of the recently announced Apple Watch.


Amazon declined to comment on the report, telling CNET in an e-mailed statement that the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.


Regardless, it's not a stretch to believe that Amazon might want to get into the smart-home industry. Both Apple and Google -- two of its top competitors in the hardware space -- are moving there quickly. Apple has its HomeKit platform, which allows iOS devices to communicate with products throughout the home. Google, meanwhile, acquired the smart thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion earlier this year, making a definitive move towards the smart home.


With Amazon's investment in Lab126 comes some cash changing hands, according to Reuters. Amazon will invest $55 million into the division's operations in California, in return, the state will hand the e-commerce giant $1.2 million in tax breaks.


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