This week on our podcast, I discussed the Amazon Echo, which I bought for my wife on her birthday. I described it as Siri in a bluetooth speaker, but it’s a bit more than that. As a bluetooth speaker, it puts out very rich sound. It is constructed in a column, with a two inch tweeter in the base topped with a two and a half inch woofer that flows into a large reflex port that expands the output. The unit is capped with a lighted volume ring, and a 7-microphone array to hear voice commands even in a noisy room.
Those 7 microphones are important, because that is how you interact with the Echo. With a simple voice command, you can ask what the weather will be, how long your commute to work will take, or start a custom playlist from your Amazon music library. Here are a few things Amazon Echo can do:
- Plays all your music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
- Answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more using the Alexa Voice Service
- Controls lights, switches, and thermostats with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Nest, and ecobee smart home devices
- Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills–over 100 added since launch, including Domino’s and Uber
My kids talk to “Alexa” like a member of the family. It is great for answering homework questions like how many mountains are in the Himalayas or how to convert imperial measurements to metric. Alexa will even delight the kids by farting when they ask, so she fits in great to our household.