Hearing about something that works with Alexa or is compatible with Alexa is becoming more and more common every day.
You hear about Alexa in conjunction with a wide range of subjects and such a diverse context that it can be hard to fully grasp just what Alexa is.
We’re going to take a good look at just what Alexa is, and what it can do, both on a small scale and a larger one.
Alexa is a digital assistant created by Amazon, modeled on a Polish voice-interface platform, and inspired by Star Trek voice technology. It is built on an artificial intelligence framework that gives it much of its computational muscle, and it can do just about any task that you program it to do, as long as you have the right tasks and infrastructure in place.
What Is Alexa
Amazon Alexa, most commonly known simply as “Alexa” is a personal digital assistant.
This means Alexa is a complex computer program that is hosted in the cloud and accessible through digital devices controlled with voice commands.
The most common line of Alexa-capable devices is the lineup of Amazon Echo devices, such as the Echo, Echo Dot, and others.
These devices are also known as “smart speakers” since that is the form that they most often take.
The Echo, for example, looks like a cylindrical speaker, accented with an LED light ring around the top.
Most other Alexa-capable devices are also shaped similarly to speakers, though some newer models also have screens that can display relevant information to the user.
How Alexa Started
Most of us have seen at least one or two episodes of the popular science-fiction franchise Star Trek, and the voice-command ship’s computer that was present on the Enterprise is the basis for much of Alexa’s inspiration.
The idea for Alexa was born from sci-fi, which is fitting for a company that is on the cutting edge of consumer data, interaction, and prediction.
There is even an annual Alexa conference where developers and engineers can come together and showcase new projects or ideas for the automation and IoT industry.
What Can Alexa Do?
The list of things that Alexa can’t do would likely be shorter.
Since Alexa has so much versatility, as well as the tech muscle of Amazon behind it, the possibilities of how to implement Alexa are almost endless.
Here are several primary ways that people use Alexa to benefit or improve their daily lives.
Home automation is one of the most powerful, though arguably lesser-used functions that Alexa has.
Even when implemented, many users only have an Alexa interface with certain aspects of their home, but the possibilities are staggering.
If you thought technology had gotten fancy with The Clapper, or LED bulbs that come with remotes, Alexa is going to blow your mind.
You can integrate Alexa controls into your home lighting.
Alexa can directly control smart home bulbs, but you can also buy products that will provide a smart interface for existing lights, either through smart bulb sockets or smart outlet technology.
The same goes for anything that you can plug into an outlet that’s been upgraded to smart functionality, even switches, and dimmers.
Alexa can also interface with home security techs, such as cameras, smart locks, and doorbells.
It can help control home heating and cooling equipment, and let you know when the baby is fussing in the nursery.
It can even interface with components in newer vehicles.
Sports fans that find it tedious to keep up with their favorite teams, or to get gameday updates while they’re doing other tasks will find that Alexa can be priceless.
Get up-to-date information on any game, any team, or any market.
Alexa is far more entertaining than many people realize, and it can curate endless hours of podcasts, music, and even audiobooks for its users.
Not only that, but kids love to ask Alexa to tell them a joke, or a bedtime story.
You can even have Alexa quiz you at trivia or manage your social media accounts.
Ordering & Shopping
Using Alexa to shop on Amazon is one of the easiest things you may ever do in your life.
This makes sense though since Alexa is created by Amazon and optimized for use on the platform.
Once you have the appropriate configuration done and the corresponding settings set, you can make a simple command like “Alexa, order another bag of dog food.”
Alexa will then order the food according to your preferences and will have it sent to your preferred address, and billed to your preferred payment method.
All without even looking at your computer.
You can easily ask Alexa to remind you to take medications at specific times of day, or during certain situations.
Alexa can also help you keep track of doctor appointments and other medical appointments for you and your entire household.
You can ask Alexa to help you meditate to clear your mind, or you can get information on your recent physical activity from your various activity trackers.
Get the news and weather for your predetermined preferences with a simple command.
You can set up a variety of skills that create a briefing that you can get in an instant.
The detail and capability of these can be as complex as you want them to be.
As you can see, Alexa is an incredibly capable digital assistant that can perform countless tasks for you, as well as provide you with the important information you request.
All you need to do is have a compatible device and you can get started using Alexa for basic tasks today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Alexa A Paid Service?
No, Alexa is completely free.
If you buy one of the smart home speakers, like an Echo, the equipment will have an initial cost, but the Alexa service itself can be used endlessly for free.
Can I Get Rid Of Old Skills?
Yes, you can easily get rid of old skills by opening the Alexa dashboard, finding the appropriate skill, and deleting it.