This may not be Education Technology (yet), but it is Pretty Cool Emerging Technology for the Home
This was just too interesting not to share! After an long period of limited availability, Amazon announced yesterday the general availability of this sweet new voice controlled device that does much more than just play your favorite music when you ask it to.
The Amazon Echo not only can hear you from across the room while it is playing your favorite tunes, it can maintain your grocery list, give you a weather forecast, search Google for you, and much more, all through voice command. Some are calling it “Siri for your home”.
You can even plug lights and appliances into special wirelessly accessible devices that can be controlled through the echo. Holy HAL 9000, I want one!
The Echo may be the first big leap for the voice controlled home, pushing the idea into the consumer mind set much like the iPad made the long floundering tablet computer niche legitimate back in 2010.
90% of over 19,000 reviewers have rated it a 4 or 5 on Amazon.com. Here's what a few reviewers have said about it:
“The Echo may be the closest thing we’ll have to a Star Trek computer at home.”
“We have been using Echo since April. Prior to that time, my husband had been hospitalized for several weeks. He is currently wheelchair bound. We immediately installed the Hue bridge and lights as well as the WEMO outlet. With these, and dear, dear, Alexa, he has a great deal of control of his environment in ways that make him much more independent. Others might enjoy Echo for fun and convenience, but for him it is a lifeline! He has even had her turn the lights on in my bedroom when I didn't hear him call.”
– Alex S.
“The Echo has become the most used appliance in our home.”
– Canon man
But What About Privacy?
Of course, there is always a potential downside to most new technology, and one question this leaves me with is the potential for people with malicious intent to listen the goings on in your household by accessing the Echo. This article discusses that topic and indicates that until you wake the device up by saying Alexa or Amazon, it isn't actively listening to what you say. It also makes the point that in many ways it isn't much different than trusting other cloud services.
I'm not sure when this type of technology will have an impact on education, but you can bet that day is closer than most of us imagine.