Bringing voice control to every household
My Amazon Echo is nearing two years old now, having purchased her early 2015. Yes I refer my Echo as Alexa and her.. I also find I say please and thank you which makes my wife chuckle.. She now has an English accent thanks to the UK launch late September 2016.. There has been a lot of press surrounding her introduction and wanted to add my experiences so far..
On first setup which took a good ten minutes to complete with the WiFi handshake process she woke and I asked her to tell me a joke; a question my children also enjoy asking on frequent occasions.
To compliment the Echo you have the option to choose and install 'Alexa skills', think of them as simple plugins that increase her capability to carry out new and 'fun' actions.. There are oodles of skills available to install and a couple of my favorites include; Campbell's Kitchen Skill which gives you recipes on demand catering for fish, vegetarian and meat meals types. Techcrunch which has global technology updates along with the humorous updates. BBC News skill which is self explanatory.
Alexa has something called the flash briefing as a default option which I highly recommend as it gives you a personalised concise summary of the top stories of the feeds you have selected, for me Alexa tells me the to storoes from the BBC feed and then the techcrunch top stories followed by my localised weather for the day. One observation is the absence of the Techcruch updates are not available in the UK, only in the US. This is a pity and hopefully it will be added at somepoint in the future.
The Alexa family in my household is growing to four with an additional three Dots being added in October 2016, this is to both extend her 'reach of convenience' to me but also to see if I can begin removing surplus tech in my house like a CD player in my bedroom which will give me the '"Alexa play my prime music" or "Alexa flash briefing please"ability in my bedroom and a morning alarm too.
As we all move towards the disappearing interface as a primary method of interacting with the technology around us, Amazon have made a greatfirst step towards this and as Google and Apple catch up with their in-home devices Amazon currently has the better offering; Google offers search, Apple offers Music and Siri and Amazon offers their e-commerce, streaming music, films, audio books etc... We'll cover more on the disappearing interface in a future blog.