I was interested to read recently about ‘Amazon Echo’ and how it has been recently piloted in homes. It is a voice control device that has no interface other than accepting voice commands – also responding using a voice.
In short, it allows us to start moving on from the idea of a ‘connected home’ as something from science fiction to now offering it as a reality. Echo uses far-field microphones so you can address the system from anywhere in a room, asking questions as you might with the Apple Siri system, or asking it to undertake specific actions – such as engaging the home security system or setting an alarm call for the next morning.
I can see enormous potential for Amazon if a system like Echo takes off. Naturally it can also be used to purchase from their site with the need for searching and interacting with a website. It would be easy to ask Echo to obtain a computer game or movie – one request to the system and it would be automatically downloaded to your TV or console.
Likewise, as Amazon sells just about everything it is easy to imagine even telling Echo what groceries you need and allowing the system to store up a virtual shopping list, until you give the system a green light to make a delivery of everything you mentioned this week.
But there are clear privacy issues. The system will be in your home and always listening to activity, always sending reports back to the central server. Clearly these concerns need to be addressed as we all move into the era of the connected home.
However I can see many more benefits than drawbacks. In fact, it seems like an ideal customer service solution where the customer can be in his or her own home, asking questions to Echo, and Echo connecting the customer directly to someone that can help. It sounds like a great tool and I’m going to follow the trials with close interest.
Photo by Shal Farley licensed under Creative Commons