Sunday, January 8, 2017

Amazon Echo Dot - Alexa

It may be a stretch to call the Echo Dot a robot but slap on some wheels and you are getting close. With the acquisition of the Dot there are now 4 "robots" in various state of repair running around the house. In addition to the new Dot, the robot vacuum cleaner "ZAC" from Neato is going strong, we also got a BB-8 for Christmas which likes to patrol around the house and we are working on voice recognition for AVA.

Just like Apple's "Siri" and Microsoft's "Cortana",  the Dot uses the Amazon equivalent "Alexa" as your personal digital assistant. You can ask Alexa all the usual questions "What is the weather like?" "What is the news", etc, but what I like is the ability to read you a book from your Kindle library or to play a song from any bluetooth connected device or Spotify/Pandora.

The equivalent of apps for Alexa are called skills. You can develop your own by signing up for the free Amazon Developers program, which I did. In a subsequent post I will cover how you go about whipping up a skill. It looks fairly straight forward but no doubt there will be some tricks...