Alexa is Amazon's digital assistant built into devices such as the Amazon Echo.
It belongs inside the Echo smart speaker and other devices, and offers users the ability to say instructions to control different products throughout their home. This experience can be enhanced further through use of 'skills' of which over 7000 are available.
Some Alexa Skills connect to smart devices, bringing voice control to a smart home from smart lights to locks, smart thermostats to televisions and more. Alexa becomes the central hub from which other smart devices can be controlled. Amazon by now is licensing the Alexa interface to other manufacturers widening the number of gadgets where Alexa can be used.
Here are some commands that would do exactly what you think they would:
“Alexa - what are your deals?” (find a bargain on www.amazon.co.uk)
“Alexa set timer for 2 minutes” (set a timer for 2 minutes)
“Alexa, set an alarm for 7 am using BBC news on TuneIn” (radio alarm)
"Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride" (order a taxi)
“Alexa, what’s my flash briefing” (get your personalised morning news)
“Alexa open 5 minute workout” (get sweaty, quickly)
“Alexa ask the bartender to make a drink” (cocktail ideas)
“Alexa ask my buddy to alert Samantha” (Emergency help for someone in trouble)
“Alexa tell bedtime story to Archie” (read a personalised bedtime story)
“Alexa open the magic door” (play a real life adventure game)
“Alexa ask fuel finder where’s the cheapest diesel” (lowest local petrol prices)
Key third party products that will link in very nicely are NEST and PHILIPS lighting. It really is the tip of the iceberg for Smart Home and Alexa frankly is miles ahead of the competition in bringing this type of world together.
For the beginner the question is where to start. The good news is I've put together a set of handy videos that might help you begin to understand what the "control centre of Alexa" looks and feels like. Personally I think an Amazon Echo Dot for around £50 is a low risk test case to see whether Smart Home is something that you may wish to explore. The videos were all made using the Dot as an example and I think you'll find the results are pretty impressive.
I'm taking a pre-planned break for two weeks which is a little frustrating as things are really going well. I think this fantastic content should help keep the momentum going. Don't forget you can still place orders and I'll complete the work on my return. There is no need to rush technology.
Watch out for this six part series walking you through the Alexa App. She behaved impeccably throughout and I think they show how great new technology can be.
The videos cover: music, video and books, lists, reminders and timers, contacts, routines and the big one - introduction to Smart Home. I hope you enjoy them! See you on the other side.