Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amazon Echo Is A Cool Tool

Amazon Echo would be a spurge, since it's more technology than I need right now. And yet, it's a super cool tool at an affordable price. Echo is like having Sari in a room, except Echo is handsfree and responds to the name, Alexa (or Amazon). Ask Alexa all kinds of questions, such as "How many tablespoons are in 3/4 of a cup?" It will answer, "There are 12 tablespoons to 3/4 of a cup."

Echo the gadget is connected to Alexa, a cloud based service, so it can access all sorts of information when you ask; and the cloud is always getting smarter. 

Alexa can pick up your voice from anywhere in a room even with background noise like water running in a kitchen, or a television playing in a living room. Echo fills the room with immersive sound. That means it blurs the line between the physical and digital worlds.

Alexa also responds to commands. It can create shopping lists, provide news, traffic and weather reports, turn on lights, keep your calendar, set timers and reminders, plus reorder items from your Amazon shopping history if you have an Amazon Prime account. (Yikes, spends your money!)

You can play music off the internet from sites like Pandora, iHeartRadio and more; or have Echo read you audiobooks. If you ask, Alexa will even tell you jokes.

It would be easy for a household to get addicted to the convenience of Echo. Like what we saw on the Jetsons, or Star Trek right? Wow, whether you ask questions or give commands, the technology is real and available today. Not very expensive either. Cost: $179.99 with free shipping.

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  1. I can report that some friends of mine (with kids who are at the epi-center of tech stuff) have now got one of these Amazon Echoes. They are going to hook it up to lightbulbs from Phillips. As I understand- the lightbulbs' base has a wireless on/off receiver. So, the first use of the Amazon Echo will be for controlling lightbulbs. Beyond that, they are considering how to interface it with a motorized up/down thing for window shades.

  2. Some friends have reported to me that they got an Amazon Echo. First use will be to turn lightbulbs on/ off- using a bulb made by Phillips that has wireless on/off switch built into the base. A second use (if they can get the lightbulb things going) would be a wireless hookup for motorized window shade. In both cases, the idea would be to say a command like "turn lamp on" or "close the shades now". etc Very cool stuff.