When people talk about Alexa, they are most commonly talking about an Amazon Echo device of some sort. Alexa is also available on other Amazon devices and through the relevant apps on smartphones and tablets and is the artificial intelligence software that you converse with.
For the purposes of this article, when I refer to Alexa, I will be talking about an Amazon Echo device. See Amazon UK page here https://amzn.to/2FcG8op
So what can you do with it? A quick Google will come up with any number of amusing things to get Alexa to answer. And some useful things as well.
But when you have finished getting Alexa to meow or play your favourite radio station or answer an obscure question, what then? Well, it depends on what other ‘smart’ gadgets you have in your house and whether they are Alexa compatible.
Apart from what comes pre-programmed in an Echo, there is a very long list of ‘skills’ that can be added to Alexa as necessary. These skills expand the capability of Alexa to interact with smart devices and access specific radio stations and other internet services.
If you are a bit of a gadget freak, a simple search on Amazon will reveal all manner of gadgets to do things you never thought you might need but suddenly feel are essential! Some of the most common Alexa automation is switching things on or off and controlling audiovisual systems such as Sonos.
Controlling smart lighting can be a genuinely useful use of Alexa and there are a number of ways to do this. You can get Alexa compatible bulbs which can be dimmed and change colour on your command or at a set time. There are Alexa compatible light fixings which you can plug regular LED bulbs into and voice control with Alexa.
There are also Alexa compatible wall switches, dimmers, plug sockets, adapters and door locks which allow you to integrate your whole home with voice control. However, as far as wall light switches are concerned, it’s quite unlikely you will be able to retro-fit them due to the way UK light circuits are wired.
Now there are some security issues with Alexa. But just as there isn’t enough space in this article to cover all that Alexa can do, there also isn’t enough space to discuss security. Maybe that’s an article for the future!