What is Amazon Echo?
Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker which responds to your voice. Simply say the trigger word “Alexa” and the Echo is ready to respond. From music requests to news updates, the latest football scores to weather forecasts Alexa can provide all the latest information, all you need to do is ask. For Amazon prime customers you also have the ability to order products from Amazon and have access to thousands of songs via prime.
However, we believe the Amazon Echo’s biggest strength is how it integrates with other smart home automation systems. Adding something unique to rapidly growing market of the Internet of Things.
Smart Home Integration
Adopting the Echo into your home can give you the seamless ability to control your lighting scenes, lower blinds and shutters, adjust your thermostat and even turn on your TV, all of which without you having to lift a finger.
Not only can the Echo order you a taxi from Uber or order you your favourite pizza from Just Eat but it can also integrate with many house hold smart devises such as Hive, Nest and Philips Hue. We now also have the ability to integrate Alexa with integration systems such as control 4, which (in theory) will give you complete control over your home all through the use of voice recognition technology.
Alexa in theory can act as a replacement for your smart home interface. Anything your tailored buttons can do, Alexa can do just as well. However, this will need to be programmed into your existing system by an expert engineer.
It was recently revealed that Alexa is soon to be available in dozens of different house hold devices including other speakers, refrigerators, and TVs. Therefore a whole house integration is not too far away.
Sleek, modernist and innovative, the Echo has been praised for its elementary design. The cylindrical shape comes with a futuristic blue LED lighting strip which springs to life to let you know that Alexa is listening to a command.
The size and shape is a direct consequence on the speaker located inside. The Echo ‘Dot’ which is the speakers little brother is a 5th of its size but doesn’t possess the speaker quality of its older sibling.
In the wrong room the Echo could look slightly imposing and if this is a deciding factor for you a look at the more organic Google Home maybe worth your while.
This has to be where Alexa comes into its own. It’s far from perfect, but its leaps and bounds ahead of other devises on the market. Where the technology goes wrong is usually down to human error, it is essential to memorise the correct wording of certain demands. If you get this correct, Alexa will be your best friend.
The product uses 7 microphones that use “beam-forming technology and enhanced noise cancellation.” With the promise that it can hear a demand from any point in the room and with the ability to drown out any background noise.
If you have pre-existing accounts with Amazon music, TuneIn or Spotify. You will be able to access and stream thousands of songs effortlessly through your Echo devise. Simply ask Alexa for a certain artist, album or genre of music and she will create a playlist for you.
However, if you use any other music service for example ITunes or Tidal you will have to connect your phone or tablet via Bluetooth to the speaker in order to source music from your playlists.
The sound quality of the Echo will easily fill a room but not to the extent that a dedicated Sonos speaker may do. Alternatively the Echo Dot does have the ability to allow a plug in external speaker or you can access them via Bluetooth.
To set up your Amazon Echo it is as simple as plug in and go! As soon as you have connected the device to your home internet connection Alexa will be ready at your service.
However, to integrate other systems for example your lighting control system this will need to be programmed for you.
The price of the Echo retails at £149.99 and you can pick up an Echo Dot for as little as £49.99.
If you are looking to create a smart home with a varied selection of services that all integrate with each other via voice control then the Amazon Echo will certainly win you over.
Amazon are working on lots of new developments for the Echo including pushing lots of financial backing into developing the intelligent AI feature. In the future Amazon are hoping that Alexa will be able to hold a 30 minute conversation, discussing current events, recommending songs or audio books, all with the desire to create an AI that learns from you.