4 reasons the Amazon Echo isn’t what you think it is

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You either understand the Amazon Echo or you don’t. The critics see it as nothing more than a creepy variation of Siri-like artificial intelligence, while the proponents understand that it could be a key player in the war to take control of the Internet of Things (IoT). So, which is it?

When you read number one, you’ll be feeling one of two things: either fear or astonishment. Or maybe a little bit of both.

4. The Amazon Echo is about software, not hardware

KeyFeaturesDeviceA lot of the naysayers don’t understand what’s so special about a device that can only handle a few rather simple requests.

No one criticizes Amazon Echo’s hardware, which is important to recognize since the hardware is the foundation of the device. What most people fail to realize is the significance of software constantly updated via the cloud. That means the device will be able to handle more complex tasks down the road.

3. The IoT: Echo is the first real contender

For example, more complex tasks such as compatibility with various smart home devices–which the Amazon Echo can now do thanks to its most recent software update. You can use the always-on eavesdropper to switch a light on or off, increase or decrease the temperature, and more. Most importantly, you can do all this from the comfort of your own couch.

Right now, Google and Apple are still winning the IoT war thanks to their mobile devices. The IoT is about convenience though, and we should expect Echo to grab a bigger piece of the pie because she’s always listening and never has to be charged. She’s the youngest version of Star Trek’s “computer,” and she proves that the transition from an internet we see to one we don’t is coming sooner than we thought.

Here’s why:

2. Echo is in early development

The device enjoyed a limited release as part of a strategic ploy to generate interest. Only a few people tried it out immediately, and reviews were mostly favorable. People want what they can’t have, so this tactic made a lot of sense.

Now that people are interested, third-party developers are jumping on board in droves. Echo’s software will soon do a whole lot more and connect to a whole lot more, but the people who received the first version of the device will never need another. Anyone who doesn’t understand Echo doesn’t understand what it represents: potential.

1. Want an example of how awesome (or scary) this could be?

One technology you may not be familiar with is mood recognition. Machine intelligence is advancing to detect what we think or feel. Devices do this by using cameras to look for facial signals or microphones to detect anomalies in the way we speak.

Imagine a version of the Amazon Echo capable of detecting mood. All it would require is a software update, per usual!

amazon-echo listening bYou have kids, and the Amazon Echo is a constant part of their lives. Echo has been around for a while, and they’re used to interacting with her as often as their best friends. Maybe one of your children is depressed. Echo knows what they’re feeling simply by listening to their voices, and can provide encouragement or guidance as needed. In a severe case, she might inform the parents that a child is suicidal and requires immediate attention.

This is just one bizarre example of how Echo could not only improve lives, but save them as well. Imagine what else a technology like this could accomplish.

In short, Amazon Echo probably isn’t worth buying at this very moment. The hardware is great but the software isn’t up to snuff. Instead, the intriguing contraption provides a glimpse into a hoped-for future which hasn’t been realized quite yet. The Echo has limitless potential for an advanced AI system to understand our every desire, and respond accordingly. Soon enough, that’s exactly what it will do.

Let us know what you think of the Amazon Echo. Will it live up to the hype? Will it do even more than we think it will? Is it creepy or awe-inspiring?

If you didn’t catch the original product launch trailer, check it out:

About Author

Jeff is a self-proclaimed pragmatic futurist; that is, he has high hopes for absurd life-altering technologies which sound too good to be true, and probably are. Although he writes on a variety of subjects, his real passion is for technological innovation and the people who make it happen. By day, he enjoys fuzzy bunnies, kittens, puppies, roller coasters and a sardonic written word or two. By night, he's busy running memyselfandrobot.com, replaying a random Final Fantasy game, or pretending to be Batman. He currently resides in Upstate NY.

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