Introducing Amazon’s connected speaker – Echo

Introducing Amazon’s connected speaker – Echo

Online shopping behemoth, Amazon, is making its own surge into the home automation market with its new connected smart speaker for the home – The Amazon Echo.

The Amazon Echo is a tuned, voice-activated speaker that begins to work whenever it detects its “wake” word. This word, default “Alexa”, but can be customized to whatever you want, will perform task such as creating shopping lists, answering questions and giving directions.

To use the Echo, users simply need to utter the “wake” word, and the device will light up and stream audio to the cloud. From there, it will recognise and respond to requests such as, “Alexa, I want to listen to the news on ESPN” or “I want to hear the weather forecast”. The system also provides voice-controlled alarms, to-do lists, timers, and shopping lists. Additionally, Echo can supply information from Wikipedia, or definitions of words or phrases, amongst other things.

The command can be heard from any direction, using the gadget’s in-built sensors that use beam-forming technology. The unit features seven different microphones and enhanced noise cancellation, meaning that voice commands can be heard even over the sound of music.

The Amazon Echo smart speaker can be used to ask for information, weather forecasts, news updates, music playlists and more. The connected device is also a top-notch speaker that will fill the home or office with fine-tuned sound. Echo has dual downward-firing speakers which produce 360-degree omni-directional audio. Users can enjoy the sound of clear vocals and a dynamic bass response as they select music, hands-free. The speaker is Bluetooth-enabled and can access music from services like Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon Music and TuneIn. This streaming works from a phone or tablet.

How Does Amazon Echo Work?

Making full use of the Internet of Things, the Echo’s “brain” is stored in the cloud. The technology runs on Amazon Web Services, meaning it continues to learn, adapt and introduce additional functionality over time. This also makes it very likely that Amazon will be keen to introduce a shopping function to the speaker. No doubt before long the machine will make it possible for users to instantly buy Amazon products using Echo voice commands. In addition, Echo is able to adapt to the speech patterns, personal preferences, and vocabulary of users over time.

amazon echo infographic

When it comes to setup, Echo isn’t hard to integrate into your home. Connect the device to your home network using the free companion app (the app can be used on Android and Fire OS systems, plus desktops and iOS browsers). Once connected, the smart speaker is always on and connected to Wi-Fi, so it can respond in a flash to any voice commands it receives. When you’re away from your house, you can access Echo using your phone or tablet. This means that you can manage your alarm settings or add items to a shopping list without necessarily having to be in the same room as Echo.

Amazon Echo Specs

At this point in time, access to the Echo is by invitation only, for Amazon Prime members – that is, the Amazon customers who purchase the most. Interested buyers need to register their interest by going online and requesting an invitation. Selected Prime members will receive an invite in coming weeks, allowing them to purchase the speaker. If they do so, they will get to purchase the Echo for USD$99, saving USD$100. For more information head to www.amazon.com/oc/echo.

  • The Echo is 8.3cm wide and 23.5cm high.
  • The device features an adjustable volume ring; a light ring that shows when it is on; an Action button; a reflex port; a 7-microphone array; and a microphone off button.
  • Echo includes a 2.5inch woofer for deep base sound, plus a 2.0inch tweeter for crisp high notes.
  • The Echo speaker comes with a power adapter and a remote control that features a built-in microphone, plus music playback and volume controls.