If you haven’t heard of the Amazon Echo, you’re not alone.
It’s not a ‘brand new’ product. It became available, by invitation, to a limited number of users starting in June of last year. Since then, its become available to the public through Amazon.com.
But still, it has not been heavily promoted outside of Amazon.com. A lot of people have never heard of it.
That changes today. For the first time ever, Amazon will have a commercial during the Super Bowl, and it will feature the Amazon Echo.
The commercial stars Alec Baldwin and Dan Marino using an Amazon Echo to play music and compare their accomplishments.
So just what is an Amazon Echo?
It’s a black cylinder, just under 10 inches tall, designed to sit on a desk or table top. It includes a microphone with what Amazon calls ‘far-field voice recognition’, and a pretty darn good speaker system.
It works along the same lines of Apple’s Siri, Windows’ Cortana, or Google’s Voice Search.
You call it by name, Alexa, and then ask it to do certain things. Perhaps a search… to play certain music… or to turn on Echo compatible devices like smart light bulbs. And it does so. You can place orders to Amazon through Echo, or even order a Domino’s Pizza or a ride from Uber.
Right now, Echo is a very cool toy. But there is the promise of much more to come. You’ve seen those sci-fi shows where the person walks into a room and says whatever they want to happen, and it happens. Amazon Echo is a big step in that direction. The number of things it can do and the devices it works with is growing quickly.
A wifi/internet connection is required, but no subscription or ongoing costs are associated with using Echo. There are more things you can do with it if you also have an Amazon Prime membership, which costs $99/year, but it’s not required.
You can have more than one Echo on the same wifi system, for example, if you wanted to have Echos in several rooms of a house. They would work as separate, independent, devices.
Echo also works with multiple people giving it commands. It is not ‘tuned’ to just one voice.
There’s still a lot that the Amazon Echo can’t do. While you can tell it to set an alarm to wake you up, it can’t wake you up with your requested music. It can’t add things to your calendar. You can’t use it to talk to friends on a phone call.
Still, for $179.99 through Amazon.com, The Amazon Echo is an impressive jump start on the future and the ‘internet of things’.
What do you think of the Amazon Echo?
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