LETO, Technology

Echo and Alexa … Giving your home a voice.


Home automation has been around for years and with the exception of a few interesting products like the Nest the market has remained the same. With Alexa we think this is about to change. In the last year or so systems like the Philips Hue are becoming more popular. Allowing users to control their home lights with their smartphones. But where is that amazing Home automation future that is promised to us in every sci-fi movie? Featuring talking houses that would help us in our day to day life. Well, that future is not here yet. With the Amazon Echo, we are able to catch a glimpse of what that might actually be in real life.

Amazon Echo is powered by Alexa, Amazon personal assistant AI (Artificial Intelligence). We already have this technology in our phones with Siri, Cortana or Google on their respective platforms. But Amazon Echo is the first device to give your house a voice in the form of Alexa.

Alexa is so much more than a way to turn your lights using your voice. It’s build in the Cloud and allows developers to create new Alexa skills. And for this reason, the list of skills available keeps growing every day.

Now, ordering food, request a Uber ride or even remind you to take your meds are just a few of Alexa skills. In a way, it feels less awkward to “speak” to a “house” than to your phone in the middle of the street.

Is Echo Alexa  just another Gadget?

At first glance, it might appear so, but with an increasing number of Alexa skills being released every day, it has the potential to become so much more than just another gadget.

The fact that insurance companies are jumping on board makes us believe that big business are taking it seriously. Some of them have already an Alexa skill available, with functionalities like; find an insurance agent in my area or what type of insurance does that company offers.

Amazon sold over 4 million units in the US, and because usually there is only one per household it has an estimated reach of 10 million users. This number is projected to increase as soon as it is released in other countries.

Where does the competition stand?

At the moment Amazon Echo is the only device of its kind already available, but that won’t be for long. At least if Google as a say on it. In its annual Conference Google I/O they announced Google Home as a competitor of Amazon Echo, but there is no official release date so far.

There were some rumours lately, stating that Apple is working on something similar, but this was yet to be confirmed.
The reality is that for now, only Amazon and Google are fighting for the right to give your home a “voice”.

With the Echo Amazon is also releasing a slim version called the Echo Dot. Allowing Alexa to be present in every room of your house.

Echo and echo dot, Alexa

 

The Amazon Echo will be released in the UK on 28th of September and the Amazon Echo Dot on 20th of October, some rumours point to Google Home being available in the US later this year.

Update: We’ve ran our first experiment with Alexa.

Update 2: Not only Amazon Echo Dot is live, and not only it has market of skills (think apps on Apple Store or Google Play), but we have already our own skill featured there – check it out if you have the device!

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