Oh, my good Gawd.
There is now an Amazon Echo of some kind in every major room of my little house. How did this happen?
The latest gizmo is the Echo Connect, which I purchased because I’m getting up there close to the age where that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial isn’t funny anymore. Thanks to this one — which can call any phone, anywhere — if I should take a serious spill, I can now just yell, “Alexa, call 9–1–1!” No panic button bracelet or necklace. Just my voice.
And while I’m waiting for the ambulance, I can just yell, “Alexa, call (daughter’s name),” to let her know I’m hospital bound. In fact, I could also call my doctor to make sure this trip is truly necessary.
Or, wait, maybe I should get the one with the camera on it, so he can see the “boo boo,” too.
That’s how this happens.
And the thing is, these little gizmos aren’t even as good as they’re going to be yet. Amazon’s got some work to do for sure. Even the packaging and tiny instruction “booklets” can be vexing.
This last time, had I not posted a question to the Amazon Connect community, I would’ve thrown away the “splitter” you use to connect to your modem if you have a VOIP landline. In fact, it was already in my recycle bin. Wow.
The slick black boxes Echos come in have tiny little compartments in them that sometimes just look like little square things meant to keep the product in place. So it’s easy to miss one, even if you’ve an Echo vet.
Or maybe it’s just us older Echo vets. Nah, I don’t think I’m that bad yet.
Yes, they tell you to try some skills. But to get each Echo to do exactly what they’re designed to do, or the more practical things you buy them to do, you may have to Google around a bit.
For instance, even after I found that splitter, I didn’t know what to say when the Connect answered my phone for me and told me who was calling. I had to Google it, and watch a few videos, too.
That’s the same way I learned that all my Echos have an equalizer so you can improve the sound of the speaker just asking Alexa to, say, turn up the sub-woofer. People complain about the sound quality all the time, but Amazon has never officially let them know that you can tweak it. Weird.
But I do love my little cyber cylinders. They don’t control my lights and thermostat yet because I have other systems in place for that already.
But the day will come when all of the electronic objects in the house can talk to each other. And me. One way or another.
Unlike some of my friends, I am not afraid they’ll go all HAL 9000 on me — you remember that, right? The computer mutiny in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey? I’ve always been partial to robots and such.
In my house, these gadgets have already become more than just playthings. Being able to simply speak commands that allow me to call people and turn on lights, air conditioning and more, may, as I continue to age, become extremely important.
And not having to pay extra for a “middle man” to make those emergency calls, etc., is also a plus on my fixed income. This is a market Amazon has finally begun to openly court. They even promoted the SNL skit above that poked fun at us.
I’m not sure I’ll be asking my Lynx to give me a hug very often, when I get one. I say “when,” not “if.” I mean a mobile Echo? C’mon.
This girl’s gotta have it.