Alexa: My New Girlfriend

September 12, 2015

Demo of Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is an entirely voice-activated device (…at least once its all set up). I had the opportunity to demo the Echo at a conference on disability and accessible technology just before the official release.

At first I wasn’t convinced of its value as the functionality exists on iPhone, iPad, etc. But I was intrigued by the possibilities of a completely hands-free device. Might it open up possibilities for those with disabilities or who are ‘technologically challenged’?

The Echo works by voice activation – similar to Siri – but a bit simpler. The Echo awakens when it hears its name, Alexa, which you then follow with a simple command such as “play Stevie Wonder“, “play NPR“, or “what is the weather today?

Both my 82 year old mom and teenage daughter were tickled by ‘conversing’ with Alexa. Her voice is actually quite pleasant and It is fun to think of new things to ask her. Yes, its is a bit creepy, but fun nevertheless.

My mom now has her own Echo and is using it regularly. It has brought music back into her home – a great thing.

Expect the Echo’s functionality to grow over time. Third parties are already developing devices that will allow the Echo to control lights and other household functions.

Click on the link above to the short video demo I put together – let me know what you think.

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