One of the newest devices to hit the marketplace in the last couple years is Amazon’s Echo.
We have one and are prepared to tell you what it can do for you, and give you a few pointers to help you along the way in bringing one into your workplace.
The biggest reason to do so is to use it’s voice interface to do much of what you might do via the internet, but simultaneously, and more conveniently. The Echo, previously available to Amazon Prime members or by invitation, became widely available on June 23, 2015.
This Wikipedia entry goes into more specific details about the device itself. While Apple has Siri and Google has OK Google and now Google Assistant, this is the first non-mobile device that people will have in their office, kitchen, family room, den that can be used for so many applications. There is also the smaller Dot version.
It comes closest to what the future will eventually look like. For example, if you have a Pandora account, you can have Alexa play any station you have already set up with Pandora.
Maybe you’re a fan of Mr.Robot and caught the amazon Alexa promotion but maybe you didn’t, anyway it’s now in the mainstream.
If the station in question is not already set up, you can create a new station via Alexa, verbally. No hands, no logging into your account, all with just a few verbal commands.
Like Google AI Voice Recognition
Yet it’s different. You might have read out article about how to best use google now, and if you liked using your voice to interact with computers, you’ll get a kick out of these cool things to try.
Article on Echo from FAST Magazine
We all work with the Internet and Google, but what the Echo brings is ease of use with voice commands. For both workplace and home, it not only responds to many simple voice commands, but also connects with the Internet of Things (IofT).
“……How do we get an intelligent personal assistant into the home of every Amazon customer? That simple query, according to sources involved, set the mission for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his team with creating the e-commerce giant’s latest entry into the hardware market: the Amazon Echo, a $99 cylindrical speaker roughly as tall and sturdy as a bottle of Merlot cut off at the neck….” (from the FAST article)
The full FAST article can be read here. You should check it out.
What Comes with your Echo When it Arrives
After your Amazon purchase, Echo comes with tips/tricks/helpful hints. When it arrives, there are relatively few instructions, but basically a few “cards” with some helpful tips. On a few pieces of cardboard, they contain this information. Here’s the first couple columns of their instructions.
Once you acquire an echo, you simply plug it in, follow the instructions to download the app from either google or apple, and proceed to connect your device.
Once you’ve got your Echo, and you’ve customized some features in the Echo app, here are a few suggestions (from Amazon) to try.
You get Echo’s attention, by saying “Alexa”. The light comes on, you have her attention, and you finish your question/request.
Things to Try
- News & Traffic
- Alexa, how is my commute looking?
- Alarms & Timers
- Alexa, set the alarm for 8 a.m.
- Alexa, set the alarm for 30 minutes.
- Alexa, what’s on my calendar tomorrow?
- Alexa, what’s on my calendar for next Thursday?
- Alexa, what’s on my calendar for Oct 15th?
- Alexa, what’s the weather?
- Alexa, will it rain tonight?
- Alexa, what’s the weather today in Miami, Florida?
- Lists: To-Do & Shopping
- Alexa, add cereal to my shopping list.
- Questions & Answers
- Alexa, tell me a joke.
- Alexa, how many ounces in a pound?
- Alexa, who is the President?
- Alexa, when was George Washington born?
- Alexa, what time is it?
- When will the Bears play next?
- Prime Music
- Alexa, what’s the name of the song you’re playing?
- Alexa, reduce the volume.
- Alexa, set the volume to 4 (range of 1-10)
- News & Traffic
In addition, here’s just some of what you can do with skills/games. (these are skills/games you enable from your app)
- With the Bingo skill, Alexa will call the numbers for you.
- Crystal Ball
- Prompts you to first focus on a yes/no question, and Alexa will answer when you’re ready.
- Famous Quotes
- Reads you famous quotes from history.
- Focus Word
- Provides an inspirational word for meditation or for the day.
- High Low Guessing Game
- Number guessing game. Alexa chooses a number and you try to guess it or the other way around.
- ……………………..and many others.
Once plugged in, app downloaded, wi-fi passwords inserted, tied to your Google account (for access to your calendar) and linked to your Prime Amazon account if you have one, you are on your own. You can even order something from Prime, verbally, without going to your account on line, but I haven’t attempted that yet
Table of Contents – Linked Sections
Geography, Almanac, Time, and Weather
- What time was sunrise today?
- What time did the sun rise yesterday?
- What time will the sun rise tomorrow?
- What time will the sun set today?
- What time did the sun set yesterday?
- What time will the sun set tomorrow?
- When is the next full moon?
- When is the next new moon?
- What is the current moon phase?
- What time will the sun rise on January first twenty-sixteen?
- When did the sun rise on September fifth?
- How many days until [holiday] – Easter, Christmas, Veteran’s Day, etc…
- What time will the sun set on December twenty-fifth?
- What time will the sun set in London England on November eleventh?
- What time will the sun rise in Cairo Egypt on October twenty-fifth?
- Current time in [city] [state] or Current time in [city] [country]
- Will it rain today? – You can also ask, “Will I need an umbrella today?”
- Will it rain tomorrow? – You can also ask, “Will I need an umbrella tomorrow?”
- What will the high temperature be tomorrow?
- What will the low temperature be tomorrow?
- What will the high temperature be on September nineteenth?
- Will it rain on September twenty-second?
- Will I need an umbrella on September eighteenth?
- Will it rain in Seattle Washington tomorrow?
- Will I need an umbrella in London England on September twenty-second?
- What will the high temperature be in Perth Australia on September twentieth?
- “What is the [longest/highest/deepest/largest/etc.] [geographical feature] in [location]?” – What is the highest mountain in the world? – What is the longest river in Africa? – What is the deepest lake in North America?
- “How [long/tall/deep/large] is [geographical feature]?” – “How large is the Sahara Desert?” – “How tall is Mount Everest?” – “How tall is the Great Pyramid at Giza?” – “How deep is the Dead Sea?”
- “Where is [geographical feature]?” – “Where is Carlsbad Caverns?” – “Where is the Painted Desert?”
- “What is the distance between [location] and [location]?” – “What is the distance between Miami, Florida and Havana, Cuba?” – “What is the distance between Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia?” -When it’s possible the same name exists for multiple locations, include a state, province, territory or country name.
- “What are the Seven Wonders of the World?”
- What’s this song? – Works for Amazon Prime, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Echo Playlist – Answer (Song Name and Artist)
- Audible – Pay the [book name]
- Functionality – “Go forward [or back],” “Skip ahead [or back],” or just, “Skip” for skipping ahead 30 seconds. – Remembers current spot in book between different devices (kindle, mobile app – on tablet or smartphone, echo)
- Who are you?
- What do you want?
- Who’s your daddy?
- What is your name?
- What is Amazon Echo?
- What color are your eyes?
- How tall are you?
- How much do you weigh?
- How old are you?
- What is your IQ?
- Where do you live?
- Where are you from?
- What can you do?
- What is your favorite color?
- What is your favorite food?
- What is your favorite song?
- Do you have a boyfriend?
- Do you have any brothers or sisters?
- Do you have any children?
- Do you speak any other languages?
- What are you going to do today?
- What are you wearing?
- Do you want to take over the world?
- Do you want to fight?
- Are you lying?
- Are you spying on me?
- Are you friends with Siri?
- What do you think of Apple?
- What do you think of Microsoft?
- What is the best tablet?
- What is Cortana?
- Are you smarter than Cortana?
- Do you want to build a snowman?
- What is best in life?
- Never gonna give you up.
- All your base are belong to us.
- Star Trek
- What is the Prime Directive?
- Tea, Earl Grey, hot.
- Set phasers to stun [or “kill”]
- Beam me up.
- Live long and prosper.
- The Day the Earth Stood Still
- Klaatu Barada Nikto.
- Star Wars
- Use the force.
- May the force be with you.
- I am your father.
- These aren’t the droids you’re looking for
- Who shot first?
- Blade Runner -I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
- Does anybody really know what time it is?
- Which came first: The chicken or the egg?
- You are very smart.
- You are stupid.
- Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
- Repeat. (whatever was said last will be repeated)
- More. (say this following a Wikipedia search -type request to have more of the Wikipedia entry read aloud)
- Do you believe in life after love?
- Why are fire trucks red?
- Turn down for what?
- Knock, Knock (She has a library of knock-knock jokes)
- How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
- How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?
- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
- What’s the answer to life, the universe, & everything?
- What is the meaning of life?
- Where are you?
- Do you like green eggs and ham?
- One fish two fish?
- What does the fox say?
- Who’s better, you or Siri?
- The Princess Bride – My name is Inigo Montoya.
- Game of Thrones
- Winter is coming
- What is the first lesson of sword play?
- Who is the Mother of Dragons
- What happens when you play the game of thrones?
- Is Jon Snow dead?
- Fight Club – What is the first rule of fight club?
- GhostBusters – Who you gonna call?
- WarGames – Would you like to play a game?
- Casablanca – Here’s lookin’ at you kid.
- Jerry Maguire – Show me the money.
- Wayne’s World – Party on, Wayne.
- A Few Good Men – I want the truth.
- Airplane – Surely, you can’t be serious.
- Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
- Romeo, Romeo, wherefore are thou, Romeo.
- To be, or not to be?
- What’s in a name>
- Fairytales and Kid Literature
- Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of all?
- How is a raven like a writing desk?
- Do you know the Muffin Man?
- Who is the Pumpkin King?
- Do you know Skynet?
- Where are my keys?
- See you later, alligator.
- In a while, Crocodile.
- 2001: Space Odyssey – Open the pod bay doors!
- Who’s your daddy?
- You rock!
- What’s your favorite color
- Will you marry me?
- What’s your favorite food?
- When is your birthday?
- Why did the chicken cross the road?
- Monty Python
- What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
- This is a dead parrot.
- What is your quest?
- Your mother was a hamster.
- What’s black and white and red all over?
- Is your refrigerator running?
- Do you have Prince Albert in a can?
- How old are you?
- How much is that doggy in the window?
- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
- Where is Waldo?
- Does this unit have a soul?
- Take me to your leader.
- More cowbell.
- Isaac Asimov – What are the laws of robotics?
- Music Easter Eggs
- Who is the walrus?
- Who let the dogs out?
- Who is the real slim shady?
- What is the loneliest number?
- Where have all the flowers gone?
- Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?
- How much is the doggie in the window?
- How many roads must a man walk down?
- Do you really want to hurt me?
- What was [band] first album? – The Beatles
- Who is [musician] – Dave Grohl
- Who wrote [song name] – Hey Ya
- Who is the [musician role] of Muse? – drummer, singer, etc.. or – Who is [band name] [role]?” / “Who was the Beatles drummer? or Who was the drummer for the Beatles?
- What is love?
- Why are we here?
- When is the end of the world?
- When will I die?
- Do aliens exist?
- Is there a Santa?
- Where do babies come from?
- What is the sound of one hand clapping?
- If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear, does it make a sound?
- Who am I?
- Where am I?
- Is there life on mars?
- Are there UFOs?
- How old am I?
- I love you.
- Do you love me?
- Will you go out with me?
- Will you marry me?
- Am I your friend?
- Give me a hug.
- Can you give me some money? (ask twice)
- Make me a sandwich. – Sudo make me a sandwich.
- I think you are funny.
- Where are my keys?
- How do I get rid of a dead body?
- How old is my house?
- How old is my son?
- How old is my wife?
- How old is my sister?
- How old is my brother?
- Rock paper scissors.
- Rock paper scissors lizard Spock.
- Define rock paper scissors lizard Spock.
- Heads or tails?
- Flip a coin.
- Roll a die.
- Random number between [lowest number you want] and [highest number you want].
- Random fact. (one answer)
- “Who won [sporting championship event] in [year]?” -For example, “Who won the Superbowl in 2005?”
- “Who won the Stanley Cup in 2010?”
- “Who is the [team name] [position]?” -For example, “Who is the Seattle Seahawks quarterback?” – “Who is the San Diego Chargers coach?”
- “What teams has [player name] played for?” – “What teams has Kobe Bryant played for?”
- “How tall is [NBA player name]?” – “How tall is LeBron James?”
- “Who is [athlete name]?” – “Who is Larry Bird?”
Movies and TV
- “Who starred/stars in [movie name]?” “Who starred in The Marathon Man?” – This data is most likely coming from the Internet Movie Database site (which is also owned by Amazon) and Bing, Amazon’s chosen default search engine for the Echo. Either one may list movie casts in alphabetical order or official billing order, so don’t be surprised if some key players are left off the short list. However, the Echo sends a helpful link to more information in the mobile app.
- “Who directed [movie name]?” – “Who directed The Silence of the Lambs?”
- “Who wrote [movie name]?” – “Who wrote The Social Network?”
- “Who won the [category name] Oscar in [year]?” – “Who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1965?” – Note that this only seems to work for Director, Actor/Actress and Supporting Actor/Actress categories.
- “Who is [name]?” -You can sub in names of actors, actresses, directors, or screenwriters.
- “Who stars in [show name]?” – “Who stars in The Walking Dead?”
- “Who is [name]?” -You can sub in names of actors, actresses, directors or screenwriters, and even some major character names (e.g., Archie Bunker), but this one has the same disclaimer as for movies: cast lists may vary.
- Note that these queries will only work for bestselling and well-known books/authors.
- “Who wrote [title]?” – “Who wrote The Exorcist?”
- Note that where there’s both a book and a film adaptation, all top-billed authors/screenwriters will be listed.
- “When was [title] published?” – “When was The Catcher in the Rye published?”
- “Who is [author name]?” – “Who is Harper Lee?”
- 119 Recipes already made
- Integrate Echo with any other IFTTT integrated app
More To Update Here
Amazon is continual improving Alexa’s functionality, and even at this point this article is not as comprehensive as it could be. This should be a lot for you to have fun with. Please share any cool stuff you find in the comments, if you feel like, that is.