Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

There has been a lot of recent interest in the Amazon Echo – the voice command driven artificial intelligence device colloquially known as Alexa – and now you can get to know her even if you haven’t purchased the Echo or don’t live in the United States.  A demo of the experience is now available in your browser by visiting echosim.io.

The announcement of the browser-based demo is perfect timing by Amazon as interest in this market is growing with the recent announcements by Google of ‘Home’ – their soon to be released competing product.  The rumor mill is also speculating about Apple’s future release of a SDK to interface with their Artificial Intelligence SIRI and the potential of an announcement of an Echo competitor at their WWDC16 in June.

Glenn Cameron, Marketing Manager at Amazon Alexa, blogged about the new tool for testing Alexa ‘Skills’ and credited Sam Machin as the innovator and instigator for the idea during a hackathon last year. The browser-based tool is a great way for developers to test new ideas and skills.  

The demo is also a great tool to introduce new consumers to Echo.  With it you can ask questions like “What is the weather like” and hear a weather report for Seattle, Washington or maybe just ask Alexa to tell you a joke to perk up your day.  This may not be as compelling a sales pitch as watching your friend shout at Alexa to order a pizza during the halftime break or to pay their utility bills as you are running out the door – but for those of us who like to try before we buy, it is a great way to begin to experience and understand exactly what is on offer from this ‘smart speaker’ before investing $179.99.  

This is an exciting time for voice interaction devices and artificial intelligence and you should expect to see a lot of news about the companies and the products in this space over the next few months!