In recent years, smart speakers have been changing the way we interact with technology. They’re paving the way for a future in which we have robots as home assistants. Devices such as the Amazon Echo can be a revelation for elderly or blind people by making everyday life just a bit more convenient for everyone. The Echo broke onto the market as a speaker/receiver that was controlled by voice command. This has evolved into some seriously impressive artificial intelligence that can provide handy help around the home — and it never gives you backchat.
What Does a Home Assistant Do?
The Amazon Echo is an amalgamation of two new forms of technology. The first is the voice assistant — introduced via the iPhone 4s with its inclusion of Siri. This technology was bought by Apple in 2010 for $200 million and was initially used to make calls, check calendars, send text messages and navigate Google Maps. In 2014, Amazon integrated this AI element into a wireless speaker equipped with a receiver for interacting with people. The virtual assistant was born and christened Alexa.
The possibilities for what the Amazon Echo and Alexa can help people achieve around the home are endless. You can now buy smart light bulbs which can be controlled by the compact, innocuous-looking speaker. The Echo is part of a growing demand for smart technology, such as thermostats, that can be operated remotely, televisions we can control without lifting a finger and even remote operation of our vehicles.
More Than a Passing Fad
The Amazon Echo has been firmly embraced in popular culture. You can ask Alexa to sing a duet with Ed Sheeran, and she will oblige. Amazon has integrated the system with a free music streaming service. You can simply command her to create a 90s playlist or a collection of the greatest hits by your favorite artist. This can facilitate a workout at home or help you get out of bed in the morning — it’s even an awesome party trick.
The Amazon Echo has been used to make the lives of elderly and disabled people easier. While the device is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment, the simple voice-operated system is easy to use. It’s less confusing than using a search engine for people who are less familiar with technology. The NHS in the United Kingdom has even joined forces with Amazon to deliver a simple health checking function via Alexa that could help take the strain off the health service.
Will Home Assistants One Day be Robots?
Alexa is operated by its wake word, Alexa. Unless the name is used, the speaker doesn’t record speech. As the technology is evolving, and the Amazon Echo becomes able to tell jokes and operate a microwave, a robot home assistant doesn’t seem like a distant dream. As people, we tend to personify things we spend time with and form an attachment to them. Hence, men name their boats and sometimes even their satnav systems. Some people even believe that robots will be viable companions and could help people suffering from feelings of loneliness.
So there you have it, the Amazon Echo is a futuristic and exciting addition to the home. It can be used for purely functional purposes or put to work as a provider of entertainment and light-relief. This type of technology looks like it’s here to stay and possibly set to evolve beyond our wildest dreams.