Amazon reportedly exploring wearables and home automation Inc will boost staffing at its secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware unit by at least 27 percent over the next five years as it tests Internet-connected "smart" home gadgets such as a one-button device to order supplies.

This expansion comes as Lab126 tests connected-home devices that could open up a new front in its war against Google Inc and Apple Inc, two people familiar with Lab126's activities said recently.

The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Technology companies see Internet-connected dishwashers, thermostats and other household devices that can "talk" to one another as ways to fuel demand for products and services. But skeptics say many of these devices cost too much for most consumers and could take years to go mainstream.

Amazon is testing a simple wi-fi device that could be placed in the kitchen or a closet, allowing customers to order products like detergent by pressing a button, one of the people said. Lab126 is also interested in wearable devices, the other person said. Both sources stressed that such devices may never come to market.


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