Amazon Inc. launched its interactive speaker, Echo. The device can be used for shopping and streaming music. The connected speaker worth $200, acts as a virtual assistant and answers questions, plays music and shops with voice commands. But now, it will turn out to be a device to control your home. It will now control different appliances and the lights in your home. Amazon sent an email to inform its present customers about the update of Echo to support different devices from various companies like Hue, WeMo and more.
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Echo- The Connected Speaker
For those, who are still unaware of what Echo is, this is a cylindrical device which has seven microphones on top. These microphones help in listening to voice commands while blocking background noise. The voice input is then processed by connecting to the web-based servers of Amazon. This helps in processing and reciprocating to the commands of users over time. It answers fundamental questions via Wikipedia. It can play music from Prime Music, Amazon Music Library, iHeartRadio and Tuneln and gives news and weather updates from NPR, local radio and more.
Ever since its launch, Amazon has been making updates like addition of Pandora and schedules, sports scores and traffic.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) April 9, 2015
“Connected Home” Interface
To begin with, the device will support WeMo’s Switch, Light Switch, Insight Switch, and Hue’s Lux, LightStrip lights, A19, Bloom and BR30. Now, Echo will not only be used a virtual assistant but also as an interface to a ‘connected home.’
Amazon explains that to use Echo, their customers will have to connect the Hue and WeMo devices to the Wi-Fi network in their home and name them in the respective apps of the companies. The next step that they need to take is teach “Alexa”, Echo’s assistant, to find the devices with a simple command “Alexa, discover my appliances.” Later on, more commands would be added and they can interact with the devices using those commands. For instance, commands like “Alexa, turn on the coffee maker,” “Alexa, turn on the hallway light”, could be used. You can also ask Alexa to lower the lights by some amount.
This update for Echo will make it a popular device among tech savvy consumers who are looking to make their home a connected one. If Amazon can make more integration with devices from other companies, it will be more interesting.
Do you use any device for your ‘connected’ home? Have you used Echo earlier? We would love to hear your thoughts.