When I brought home our first Amazon Echo, my wife wasn't crazy about the idea as she's not really a techie kind of person. Now that we've had Alexa (Who is Alexa?) around for a few years, she's found a lot of ways for our Echo devices to help her keep the household running smoothly. For instance, she asks Alexa to turn various lights on and off around the house or asks her to announce the day’s activities from the family calendar. If she wants a quick recipe, instead of dragging out a cookbook, she looks up her recipe on the Echo Show in the kitchen and has Alexa read her the ingredient measurements one at a time.
Amazon Echo for the Kids
Our current favorite feature is using the Echo Dot to play ambient white noise in our 2-year-old daughter's room to keep her sleeping. Before we had the Amazon Echo Dot in her room, she woke up 4 times a night, but now with the white noise we are down to once per night. We are all sleeping better!
My 6-year-old daughter just spent weeks practicing for her school's talent show…she was able to start the music from the Footloose movie all by herself from the Echo Show in the living room. She practiced her routine over and over without having to get one of us to start the music for her.
At the moment, she's really into animal noises and wanting to know what noises different animals make. So we've installed the See Say Alexa skill so that she and Alexa can go through the animal sounds together. We also have her work with the Alexa skill Alphabet Say. She tells Alexa a letter, and then Alexa gives my daughter a word starting with that letter and spells it for her. Alphabet Say is a great way for her to work on her spelling. (What is a skill?)
We treat Alexa as if she's a visiting, weird, distant relative…she's great to have around, but we also have to be cautious with kids in the house. We've laid down the ground rules with our daughter about how Alexa is to be used; we can also monitor a rundown of our interactions with Alexa in the Alexa phone app. I have several of the Alexa features disabled so that we have some of her abilities turned off.
We personally don't use the video calls that the Amazon Echo Show can do, since we don't have anyone that we want to be able to spontaneously "drop-in"; (What is "drop-in"?) on us; that feels invasive, so we turn it off. I have the Echo in our bedroom locked down using the "do not disturb" feature so that it only works with one-way communication instead of two-way communication.
Amazon Echo for the Parents
I used my Echo Show last week to look up my favorite coffee brand from the Black Rifle Coffee Company. I wanted to know how much their AK47 coffee flavor costs on Amazon. I asked Echo Show to look up the coffee and it gave me a list of options on the Echo Show screen. I was able to tap a button to order. However, I do have voice ordering turned off so that my daughter can't place voice orders.
My wife typically uses Alexa to turn the lights on or off, but I use Alexa's voice commands to set different mood lighting when we have family over or on a date night. The Sci-Fi channel works with the Philips Hue lights and Echo, so if when there is an explosion on TV, the lights in our living room will flash red to simulate explosion lights!
I bought a Bose speaker system; I have the Echo Show connected via Bluetooth to the Bose speaker…the sound is amazing. We can get any song we want through our subscription to Amazon Prime Music. During Christmas, I had Christmas music blaring simultaneously on both Echo Shows, the Echo Dot and the Echo. I'm a big-on-Christmas guy, so that's the way music is played around here during the whole month of December! The Echo Show displays the song lyrics on the screen, so it is easy for anyone to sing along. Since we store our family photos on Amazon Prime's photo storage, our photos stream straight to the Echo Show's screens, so it keeps our family memories right where we can see them.
- Alexa phone app
- Alphabet Say Alexa skill
- Amazon Prime Music
- Amazon Prime's photo storage
- Ambient white noise
- Bose speaker system
- Amazon Echo Dot
- Amazon Echo Show
- Philips Hue lights
- Philips Hue Smart Bridge (this bridge is necessary for voice control with Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant)
- See Say Alexa skill
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