The Amazon Echo

I saw the Amazon Echo online and thought that it looked like a cool device, it’s essentially a smart blue tooth speaker. How is it smart you ask? Well, it can understand some of your spoken questions/commands. Take a look at the Amazon page here Amazon Echo

Or simply search for Echo on Amazon.com – I was intrigued by the capability and wanted to see how hard it was to build an “Alexa” skill so I researched a little and it turns out that you build a skill from a template. Although that sounds simple, it’s anything but simple. There are several parts to the creation and publishing. I decided to create one that could provide some car insurance facts. The template gives you all the code that you need you just need to carefully follow the instructions and replace the key words and facts with the data you want to share. Having done that I was able to successfully publish my first Alexa skill and it is now available from the ever growing skills library on Alexa.

feature-setupYou can ask Alexa things like, “what’s the weather today?” or “give me an update” and it will give you whatever it can. You can also ask it to add things to your shopping list which can see on your phone when you are at the store. It’s very cool that way. Where it really falls down is it’s not linked to a regular search engine so if you ask it something that you think Google can answer you may stump Alexa! It is improving daily, there are more “skills” being added daily. I am very interested to see where this technology goes. I suspect that Amazon is going to integrate Alexa into many other devices.

One of the other cool features of Amazon Echo involves home automation. You can use “Alexa” to automate things at home check out my page on home automation.

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