Alexa – what’s new?
Alexa – what’s new?
Voice assistants are becoming more and more popular because they take care of the smallest of actions independently. Smartphones or televisions have long been controllable with the help of voice, but not too long ago the entire household. Hannah Ballmann has been using the “Amazon Echo” voice assistant, also better known as “Alexa”, since the beginning of 2017. In the following experience report, she talks about how they lived together.
“Good morning, Alexa”
My alarm is ringing. “Alexa, stop!” Since I don’t want to be rude, I quickly say “Alexa, good morning.” “Good morning Hannah, I wish you a good start to the day!” I go to the bathroom asleep. “Alexa, play the good mood playlist!” The music booms through the entire apartment. “Alexa, volume three!” It immediately becomes quieter and I can take a relaxed shower. When I get to the shampoo, I wonder what I can wear today. “Alexa, how will the weather be today?” “Today the weather will be partly sunny and partly cloudy with temperatures between 21 C ° and 25 C °.” That’s good to know, so I can put on a dress. “Alexa, continue!” The music is played again. While I brush my teeth, something fluffy brushes my legs and makes meow. “Aleca, set Katteutter au meie Eikauflite!
The coffee is boiling and my toast is lubricated. “Alexa, what’s up for today?” “Today you have three appointments: 10:00 a.m. team meeting, 5:15 p.m. sports, 7:30 p.m. dinner with the Greeks”. I hope that I won’t be stuck in traffic again soon. “Alexa, what’s the traffic like?” “Your usual route takes 20 minutes.” It usually takes me ten minutes. I have to hurry. “Alexa, see you tonight.” “Take care Hannah.”
end of working day
After work, I drive to the nearby supermarket and use the Alexa app to call up my shopping list. The cat food and the rest of the shopping are packed in the trunk and it goes home. “Alexa, I’m back home!” “Welcome back!” “What’s new?” “Here is your daily summary of the news.” I then spend my evening without my assistant.
“Good night, Alexa!”
Only when I am in bed do I use your services again. “Alexa, set an alarm clock for 6:00 am!” “Ok, I have set an alarm clock for 6:00 am.” But I’m not really tired yet. Maybe I’ll still use the time to continue listening to my audio book. “Alexa, play my audio book.” “Your audio book will continue. You still have 17 chapters until the audio book ends. ”“ Alexa, stop reading the audio book in 30 minutes! ”“ Ok. ”I forgot to turn off the light in the hallway. “Alexa, turn off the light in the hallway!” The light goes out. 30 minutes later, my audiobook slowly fades and eventually goes out. I yawn. “Alexa, turn off the light in the bedroom!” “Good night!” “Good night Hannah, I wish you pleasant dreams!”
There are many things that voice assistance is really useful. But as with all devices, Alexa also has its downsides. For example, if the WLAN is not completely reliable, the fun quickly goes by. As soon as there is no connection to the Internet, you will receive a message that you should try again at a later point in time. I also find it strange to have a device in my apartment that constantly “listens”. Because so that Alexa can react to her name, the integrated microphone must be switched on continuously. There is a built-in mute button, but this button destroys the actual idea of voice control. If you have to walk up to the device and press a button, all convenience is gone. The smart home functions, such as controlling the light, are also only practical as long as, for example, there are no small children in the house who find it very funny to switch the lights on and off alternately by voice. Then again, the mute button is helpful.
After the initial euphoria, my Alexa is now in a coma most of the time. Disconnected from the electricity, she pauses to be able to play music for me from time to time. I still find this feature very useful. The reason for this separation are the concerns of data protectionists. Voice assistants are constantly collecting data and what really happens to them is not clear at the moment. Amazon states that the data is only recorded and saved after the code word “Alexa” has been mentioned, but where it ultimately ends up is not certain. This “spy function” caused discomfort not only to me but also to guests. It would be easy for hackers to capture every word in order to gain access to personal data. My father (68) therefore uses a VPN tunnel so that Amazon cannot draw any conclusions about hisIP address can pull. He sees a benefit in data storage: all language assistants learn new idioms and commands from the data collection. His Alexa even understands commands on Platt: “Alexa, what’s the clock?”
I think Alexa is similar to other flatmates in a shared apartment. First you have to get to know each other, establish clear rules and be open to compromises when it comes to peculiarities, then it will also work out harmoniously together.