November 6th 2014 saw Amazon unveil their Amazon Echo to a limited audience, and on June 23rd 2015 it became available to the masses.
But what is the Amazon Echo?
Amazon Echo is an electronic device which in my opinion, is sort of another person in the family. I have heard people describe a television as a permanent member of the household- one that’s lazy and doesn’t go anywhere but provides us with plenty of entertainment. Amazon Echo is less of an entertainer and more of an aid in the house. Amazon Echo is a sound-based electronic person who even has a name- ‘Alexa’, and comes in the smooth and alluring magical form of a cylinder.
Alexa cannot clean the house for you or babysit the kids. She is more in the way of being an extra brain; helping you remember things, and providing you with information so that you do not have to look it up for yourself. In short, Alexa is a time-saver.
Alexa requires a WiFi internet connection and needs to be plugged into the wall to work since she has no battery. She has 7 microphones so that she can hear you from across the room, even if music is playing. Alexa is a cloud-based voice service, meaning that she stores information in her ‘cloud’ (the robotic equivalent of a brain), and is constantly getting smarter.
It will take a while for Alexa to get used to your tone of voice and voice patterns so be patient and accept that she’ll mishear you a few times at the beginning of your relationship. Once you’ve overcome the bumpy start things will get better. New beginnings are always hardest.
Amazon Echo also comes with an Amazon Echo app for your smartphone or tablet so that Alexa does not have to stop working when you leave the house.
Developers of Echo are working with Philips Hue and Belkin WeMo to give Alexa the ability to turn on and off the lights in your house. This is particularly useful for disabled people, or the elderly who may find it hard to get up and walk about. It’s also useful for those lazy people who just don’t want to get out of bed to turn off the lights (guilty).
Alexa is great with helping the kids check their homework, and is also pretty funny if you ask her to tell a joke. She’s also a great DJ- being able to play good music, and can be used as a timer or alarm clock – “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes”. Never again will your cookies burn.
When asked about Siri (Apple’s voice controlled personal assistant), she responds: “I think Siri is great.” When asked whether she is better than Siri she is humble and says: “Not better, just different.”
I’ve said enough. Watch the Amazon promotion video to see how Alexa works for yourself, and how it differs to Siri.