Amazon’s Echo: “Siri in a Box”


What is Echo?

  • Wireless speaker with a voice controlled personal assistant built in
  • “Amazon has named the smart speaker Alexa. Alexa is named after the library of Alexandria, which stored the knowledge of the ancient world
  • Similar to Google Now and Apple’s Siri
  • Always-on, always-listening (downside: has woken people up in sleep)à quick way to provide answers

What are the Echo’s properties?

  • Standard Bluetooth speaker
  • Ability to answer questions
    • You just need begin commands or questions by saying “Alexa” to appropriately address the robot.
  • Wi-Fi network connected device


  • Music comes through shallow, tiny and compressed
  • Once music starts to play, Alexa cannot hear your commands
  • Rated 7 out of 10 on The Verge


  • Black cylinder
  • Size of tennis-ball
  • Blue-green light flashes around top of canister
  • Volume ring on top of device

What else can Echo do?

  • Play music and podcasts on demand
  • Order products from Amazon with just a voice command
  • Report the time
  • Report the weather
  • Set timers and alarms
  • Calculate measurements
    • “How many tablespoons are in a cup”
  • Add items to your shopping list
    • “Alexa, add chicken broth to my shopping list”

What if Alexa can’t answer your question?

  • A query is made in the Echo App and with one tap becomes a Bing search

Echo App

  • Stores a running history of all your questions
  • Helpful tips on how to talk to Alexa

Significant dates

  • Announced Echo technology Novemeber 2014
  • Needed an invite to purchase prior to today
  • Now Amazon is opening up the purchase of Echo to anyone with shipments beginning July 14th

Price = $179.99

New features since launch

  • Hub for a smart home
    • Turning on various lights and appliances
    • Belkin’s WeMo + Philips’ Hue connected home systems
  • Improved speech recognition and accuracy
  • Info can be stored on third party services with IFTTT integretaion (if this then that)
    • links with Gmail, Twitter and Evernote

Amazon plans on providing additional applications for the Echo that will make it the leader in smart home technology.


Amazon’s Echo: “Siri in a Box”

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