Amazon Echo – The Future is Now!

I’m sure by now, most people have heard about voice-interactive smart-home devices, such as Amazon’s [Echo][], or Google’s “[Google Home][]”, where one can interract with the device using nothing but your voice, for the most part anyway.

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I’m sure by now, most people have heard about voice-interactive smart-home devices, such as Amazon’s Echo, or Google’s “Google Home“, where one can interract with the device using nothing but your voice, for the most part anyway.

Here’s a sampling of various requests and commands directed towards the Echo in our house. Yes, it even responds to kid requests. Purchase PIN strongly recommended.

“Alexa, what’s today’s forecast?”
“Alexa, add milk to the shopping list”
“Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke!”
“Alexa, play Frozen/Trolls songs”

From the beginning, the Echo has had a configurable “wake word”, which is the word or term you use to “wake” the device and make a request. But only configurable within the realms of pre-created wake words – a whopping three (3) of them – “Alexa”, “Amazon”, and “Echo”. Nerds all around the internet were quite disappointed, appropriately so, that “Computer” was not one of the wake words.

This weekend, while tweaking the shopping list within the Alexa app on my phone, I thought I’d explore the app again, since it recently underwent a massive overhaul. My thoughts were a random assortment of “Interesting, shopping and todo lists are now under one ‘Lists’ menu item.”; “Oooh, I can control music playback from the app – let’s remember that when “Let it go” gets old…. again.”; “That’s nice, I can configure and edit other Amazon devices from the app”; “Hmmm, Echo settings, wonder if they added anything there, or new wake words…”

Amazon Echo's list of configurable wake words.
Hold one a second here… No. WAY!!!

AT LONG LAST! We can finally have Alexa start doing something, even if it’s a total failure, by calling it/her “Computer”! As soon as I saw that, without a moment’s hesitation, I switched it. From the moment I first wished and wanted for the “Computer” wake word, I know exactly, EXACTLY, what my first request would be…

Requesting a Early Grey. Hot. From Alexa via the "Computer" wake word.
Computer. Earl Grey. Hot.

Apparently, I was just another unoriginal nerdly soul, but Amazon was ready for us, and I very much enjoyed the response.

So, after about 40 minutes of playing around with it, and remembering that I now needed to say “Computer” instead of “Alexa” for any request, the wake word was dutifully changed back to “Alexa”. After all, the kids quite enjoy asking things of Alexa (also referred to as “she” and “her” in our house), by saying “Alexa”.

Maybe it’s time to get a second unit, so I can these brief moments of futuristic living with my own wake word. After all, what’s the point of living in the future when you can’t live in the sci-fi future of your past? Now, where’s my damned jet-pack? And how’s that holo-deck coming along?

“Computer. Initiate auto-destruct sequence. Authorization Hugo. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. One. Zero. One. Engage.”

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