There has been much commentary about a future of ‘Connected Cities and Connected Homes’ and the launch of Amazon Echo is an exciting development that really does start to bring the home alive.
Echo is a combined speaker and microphone system that is connected to the Internet and creates the ability for your home to be online in a way that resembles the computer in Star Trek – you just speak from anywhere in your home and the computer responds.
The speaker can be controlled to play music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic, or just to answer questions. It can also be connected to other objects within your home. For example, you can easily use voice commands to turn off the lights at night.
Being able to voice activate ‘Alexa’ and answer queries, ask for information from the Internet or to order products is a major advancement in how consumers can interact with brands. There are obvious privacy concerns regarding the search data that is stored and how much background noise is captured, but I can really see this taking off.
Siri has been relatively successful for Apple, and I use Cortana more than ever – particularly for Sat Nav functions – but this feels like a game-changer because it is simple, multifunctional, and works. The reviews for the Echo are almost entirely positive.
When applied to a customer care scenario, I can see a not too distant future where I ask Alexa to connect me to a customer care agent who then connects to me via a TV or PC –with the option of face-to-face video, if wanted.
Amazon is taking the connected home seriously. Their Dash product is also interesting. It allows customers to easily order products direct from the home – even from the kitchen just by using voice or scanning an existing packet. Shopping for food products could be revolutionised by this approach.
Improving the way we shop or making it easier to reach a customer service agent may not sound like a big deal, but sometimes the thought of having to dial a customer care number and then negotiating my way through an IVR really puts me off. If Alexa can get me there quicker, then I’m all for it!
Photo by epSos licensed under Creative Commons