The kids gave my husband Alexa for his birthday this year. You know – Alexa the virtual bot from Amazon. We had some experience with Alexa before, having had this app in a hotel room where it could open/close drapes, turn the lights on and off, play music and tell jokes on request. It was fun but bringing this into our home made me remember reading about Amazon listening in on conversations. I was wary but my husband was unconcerned, read the instructions and plugged her in.
We discovered that there’s no monthly fee with Alexa but subscribing to Amazon Prime opens up tons of options. To our surprise, we could play Jeopardy, NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, request all kinds of music, ask factual questions, run through a 7-minute workout, tell us the weather around the world and even do guided relaxation exercises. So cool!
There are still basic language kinks being worked out by the developers that result in often humorous and completely off-base responses. And so far, Alexa doesn’t learn by herself which probably explains developers “ease-dropping” to fine tune responses. But I admit that, even at this early stage, it’s easy to imagine sometime soon when Alexa will have a pleasant physical form to match the ever- pleasant voice. And then, maybe she’ll bring coffee to the bedroom in the morning and do the laundry. Although these perks probably won’t come without a host of other resulting issues.
Crazy us, we bought another Alexa to set up multi-room music that’s happily heard throughout the house.
So, if anyone at Amazon is listening to me singing along with Brett Young or laughing at how little Jeopardy trivia we know, knock yourselves out. We’re having a party with our new buddy Alexa.