Finally received my Amazon Echo (echo, echo, echo)

In my previous article 2015 IOT Purchases So Far , I shared my 2015 IOT purchases (Amazon Echo, Lockitron Bolt, LUNA). My Amazon Echo is finally here after spending 6 months on Amazon’s self-imposed wait list.Screenshot 2015-06-22 11.01.35

Background on Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a connected speaker that acts as a personal assistant. You wake up the Echo by calling it’s name  – Amazon or Alexa; and then call out a command or ask a question. The Echo is connected to Amazon’s cloud and my prime account so it is very easy to order previous items or play music from Prime Music. And Amazon is consistently rolling out new features and integrations.

Initial Thoughts

The device is a lot smaller in person than I thought it would be. Setup was very easy and quick. I clicked through a few setup screens with the AmazonEcho App and Alexa was ready. Honestly, I am having a lot of fun just being silly with the Echo.

Integration with connected home devices, such as the WeMo lights in my backyard, was super simple. I pressed the discovery button and, after 15 seconds, Alexa said she found 2 WeMo lights. I can now ask her to turn on/off the backyard lights.

Another feature that plays nicely with how I work is the ability to play news, information and music. Alexa will shuffle playlists from Prime Music and play news from sources including local radio stations, NPR, ESPN and TuneIn. I love having background noise when I am working so I find myself using headphones a lot less around the house. The speaker is ‘Bose’ like, the sound fills the room and the quality is nice. I almost wish I could stream Tidal hi-fi to see if the Echo’s speaker system could keep up.

I have not used Alexa to add items to my to-do list or create reminders, but I have made a few impulse purchases from Amazon Prime. The ability to shout a quick command and confirm when Alexa ask me if I am ready to purchase is addictive.

For a lower barrier of access, Amazon would have to read my thoughts or just assume I need more coconut water, which is probably coming in in a few months. Or as part of prime membership, perhaps someone will come out to my house every week, make a grocery run and restock my house while I am at work.

What’s Next

Amazon has an Alexa AppKit and I have applied to participate in the limited beta. I am hoping to develop some custom hooks and create more scenarios that are not publicly available yet. (e.g. ‘Alexa, it’s time to go to bed’ locks back door, turns alarm on, lights off, trigger’s Nest thermostat, etc.)
AlexaAppKit
I am enjoying the device and I am excited to see how Amazon continues to develop it. I may be over stepping a bit but I think, at least for me, this device could mute potential gains Apple’s HomeKit would have in my house.

2015 IOT Purchases So Far

iot

Last year, I made my first official Internet of Things purchase when I bought a couple of Nest thermostats, which do a great job of keeping my energy bills low in an 85-year-old house. I also purchased a few WeMo light switches from Belkin and I love the new flexibility I have for my outdoor lights. I am looking to add to my IOT stable in 2015. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until some undetermined time to get (via pre-order) everything that I want to have today.

echo

Amazon Echo

This is probably one of the more nonessential items on my list but it seems like it has a ton of potential. The Amazon Echo is essentially a physical device that is always on and is controlled by your voice. Ask it questions, play music, add items to a to-do list, etc. Since the device is powered by Amazon’s cloud service, the Echo is always getting smarter as Amazon adds new functionality.

lockitron

Lockitron Bolt

To keep things simple, this bolt it is a smart door lock. I can unlock my door from anywhere and I can create temporary keys for house guests. I am not sure how much of an impact a smart lock will have in my life but the convenience factor is enough for me to spend $99.

luna

LUNA

This purchase is the one I am actually the most excited about. (Probably because it’s February in Georgia and it will be 30 degrees tonight.) The LUNA smart mattress is billed as “the world’s first mattress cover that intelligently warms your bed, tracks sleep, and makes your bed smart.”

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I was sold at automatic bed warming and Nest integration.