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Spent the weekend with Alexa

October 31, 2016

This was the first weekend Alexa came into our home. It was interesting to be able to talk to her and have someone in the room who seemed to like your type of music. I could shout from the front room and she would still hear me.

Alexa is Amazon’s incredible voice controlled digital assistant, similar to Apple’s Siri but in a stand alone device. You state your commands by starting the conversation “Alexa,….” and the results are surprisingly consistent and accomplished. Walking into a the room and stating “Alexa, good morning” brings up a short statement about the day and some element about it. This was today’s message “Good morning, and Happy Halloween! I hope everyone gets lots of candy tonight, and not a bag of rocks. And Linus, if you’re listening, I hope you finally get to see the Great Pumpkin!” Yesterday the response was “Good morning, and Happy Diwali! I can help you celebrate this joyous festival of lights. Just keep talking to me, and I’ll lend my spinning blue and white lights to the festivities!

This isn’t available in Canada, yet but I suspect it soon will be. It connects to various 3rd parties so access to my Spotify account is enacted by stating “Alexa, play Bob Dylan” and it gets music by Mr. Dylan and starts playing. I can name the exact song “Alexa, play Lay, Lady, Lay” and voila, it starts playing. If you have constructed playlists it starts playing them which give you ultimate control. Want to hear CBC AM? “Alexa, play CBC”.

It has been a learning experience, finding out what you can do. Use it for simple arithmetic, measurement conversions (millilitres to ounces, kilometers to miles), dictionary for words, what happened on this day in history, etc. etc. Each question and response is posted in text on your Alexa app. It really is phenomenal and it opens up huge potential for the future. Siri is portable but Alexa is always in the room with you. And this is just the beginning!

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