At home, when you talk about products or shopping, amazon.com is listening. Literally listening.
Last week Amazon unveiled a wireless speaker with voice recognition technology similar to Apple’s Siri and OK Google. Named “Echo” the new product is positioned as a tabletop voice-activated internet search tool. Ask about the weather in Chicago, the number of ounces in a liter, the capital of Bolivia, or to play Taylor Swift, and Echo responds aloud.
No need to get close; Echo is always listening through 7 omni-directional microphones, which adapt to your speech patterns and preferences, even with music playing. Just say the magic word “Alexa” to get her attention - Alexa was the name of an internet company that Amazon acquired 15 years ago.
Following in the footsteps of the nearly extinct Amazon Fire Phone, Echo is more than internet connected smart device; it’s a Trojan horse delivering a shopping cart in its belly. Although not prominent in Amazon’s press release or specifications, Echo excels at adding items to a digital shopping list, and it readily adds these items to your Amazon shopping cart.
Eventually, Echo will create shopping lists for you, and have them delivered, automatically. What Fire attempted to do visually, Echo does aurally.
Part of the “Internet of Things” and its subset, the “Connected Home,” Echo joins the Nest Thermostat and DropCam (both owned by Google) and the Hue Lighting System (featured by Apple) as sensors designed to make life easier, and to line the coffers of service providers with gold.
Can you hear me now?
David J. Katz, November 12, 2014
Panama City, Panama