About the Amazon Echo (also known as Alexa)

Voice recognition has been slowly creeping its way in to home and consumer technology for the past couple of years. From Apple’s Siri software on the iPhone to Samsung’s voice control for their TVs, the reality of a voice controlled smarter home is not too far away.

What does the Amazon Echo DoAmazon have recently released the Echo, a voice recognition tool for your home.  You activate the Echo by starting your question or request with ‘Alexa’ and it is always ready, hands-free and fast (ish). Echo in its fundamental form answers questions, plays music, reports the news, traffic and weather.

We asked a family who we had just installed an Amazon Echo in their home to review how they consume this technology day to day.

What Does the Amazon Echo do for a family of five?

Seeing a new gadget in the room may have quite inconspicuous to most – but to the 3 kids (8,11 &13) the Amazon Echo was spotted almost instantly.  One evening the Dad activated Alexa by playing some music – this did cause a lot of excitement in the room and it was instantly apparent how to use it.  No instructions necessary.  Genius.

What do children use the Echo?

Mostly music, the 8 year old loves music and since it had been connected Alexa to Spotify this was the best thing ever.  No longer is there a fight over remote controls.  It had been known before Alexa moved in for Sonos controllers to go missing, buried at the bottom of duvets to prevent siblings from gaining control to the music stream.  More recently however it was discovered that Alexa was great at helping them with their homework.

Q:  “Alexa what is 7 x 8?”

A:  “7 multiplied by 8 is 56”

What does the amazon echo, alexa, do in the homeChecking the weather before school to determine whether a jumper or umbrella is necessary was the other main question asked.  This is quite useful if electronics are banned before school.

Q: Alexa what is the weather today?

A: “Currently it is 11 degrees with fog.”

Jokes – we recently also viewed the Alexa Youtube video – now at dinner times it is great entertainment to ask it to tell jokes – Q: “Alexa tell us a joke”

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A: “What is brown and sticky? A Stick”

How do the Adults use the Echo?

Mostly music again and watching how the kids consume the tech.  It would be great to spend more time to configure it and check out calendar and to do lists.  But actually to have a voice activated device has been great for entertainment and function.

We really enjoy having Alexa in the family – we would just like the time to connect it to more tech.

What more can the Echo do?

Well the Echo can do more! Companies such as Lutron and Control 4 have been some of the early adopters of adding the ability to control their systems using the Amazon Echo to enhance home automation. How well do these brands come together to make a smart home even smarter?
To be continued……
In the mean time if you would like us to install an Alexa into your home please get in touch.  It could be the first step to home automation.


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