The race to laziness has never before seen such enthusiasm. Online retail behemoth, Amazon.com, has been rigorously testing its wall-powered, voice-operated device called the Echo. Only available upon invitation, which are only available to Amazon Prime members, the Echo advertises all the appeal that Jawbone’s Jambox had circa their release (i.e., hands-free calling, loud-yet-compact music capabilities, sleek design), but with an added bonus: Echo is omnipotent.
Okay, so there is really no such thing as omnipotent; however, Amazon’s Echo maintains a constant connection to the Internet, allowing it to answer questions by retrieving your information from the Web. A user must simply say “Alexa” and follow up with a request, be it creating a list for future use, modifying calendar events, or checking tonight’s forecast. The device boasts seven microphones that are advertised as being capable of understanding speech from other rooms throughout a household or office.
While voice recognition technology is not uncommon in today’s tech world, good voice recognition certainly is. With the top contenders belonging to Google, Apple, and Microsoft, CNET.com offered some insight as to its performance in their online review of the Echo. Their analysis determined that Amazon’s “Alexa” is both competent and comfortable and that she is more natural sounding than any of her competitors. This comes as a bit of a surprise as both Apple and Google have a sickeningly larger number of users of their voice technologies and have been able to say so for quite some time now.
The latest updates to Echo have answered the prayers of many thanks to the inclusion of voice control for Spotify, Pandora, and other music-streaming applications that, before, required manual operation through the Bluetooth-connected device. That, and you can play Simon Says. A round of applause for Amazon.