Today was my 59th birthday, and my family got me a great gift – the Amazon Echo.
If you’re not sure what the Echo is, here’s a description from the Amazon web site:
Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask.
Echo has seven microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with 360° immersive sound. When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word “Alexa” and Echo responds instantly.
And here’s a brief demo of Echo singing Happy Birthday to me:
I remember when the Echo first came out, and while it seemed pretty cool, I wasn’t sure if it was something I would really use.
That changed when I read that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is a fan of the Echo, describing it as “pretty great” for controlling music.
I figured if it was good enough for the world’s fifth wealthiest individual, then it was good enough for me. So I used subliminal suggestion to put the thought in my wife’s mind, and lo and behold, it showed up on my birthday!
Besides playing music, which I do through my Spotify account, Echo can give me a rundown of the news (which I can customize), the weather, general information from Wikipedia. It can also tell jokes.
Here’s the one she just told me:
Two antenna got married; the wedding was boring, but the reception was excellent.
You can also download “skills” for the Echo, similar to apps, that allow you to perform certain actions. For example, if you wanted to get stock quotes, you can download a stock quote “skill”, and then simply ask Alexa for the stock quotes. I assume that just like the number of apps on Apple’s app store, the number of skills will just continue to grow as the Echo sells more units. I believe the Echo can also control other devices such as Philipps Hue lights and the Nest thermostat.
So far, I am a happy customer, and I look forward to seeing what new capabilities and skills get added over the coming months.
Thank you to my wife and children for such a great gift, and for such a great day!
*P.S. If you have an Echo, be careful if you play the video clip above, it may set off your Echo device!