Wednesday, February 1, 2017

An Unexpected New Wonder

We now have an unexpected Wonder for those with poor eyesight but unimpeded speaking and hearing.

This wonder is the Amazon Echo.   The Amazon Echo is a computer without keyboard and  screen which operates exclusively by voice.   Her name is Alexa.

The Echo is cheap and capable. All you need to do is ask Alexa to do something and she will do it, such as read a book to you or turn a light on and off.    The device is just $50, the remote switches cost $30 and up.  Voice controlled thermostats cost quite a bit more.

The new technology is unexpected because no one had predicted its popularity after its recent initial launch. It has been wildly popular.

Whereas other tech to assist with limited vision has often been disappointing, this tech is far more promising..

It does require some setup help from someone with good vision.

The remarkable thing about this development  is that it was technologically possible 40 years ago even with the limited speech recognition available at that time. It is just that nobody thought of it.

There is this caution: this technology requires an extremely reliable connection to internet for reasons described below.* Though this community is working on that, such a connection is not available in all parts of it.

In my apartment I have been doing some of the following things. .. 

For example, just turning on the lights here is a bit of a problem in our apartment. Not only do you need to turn lights on and off to go from one end to the other, but a single switch controls all the lights in a single room.  It is a whole lot simpler just to ask Alexa to turn on a light at the far end or in any other inaccessible place.

I use it for texting and even dialing a phone number.    I just ask it to play music or listen to news or radio.    Or simply to get answers to questions. I use it to remind me of things I need to do when the time comes.

Newly it has become possible to read digital books from your Amazon Library and also your email.


This technology requires constant uninterrupted connections to the internet. It is essential to transmit, iin real time, the voice patterns from the user to the cloud, where a supercomputer interprets  hem and sends back instructions to the new device.  Timeouts  end limited bandwidth can shut it down so that it does not work.     Here, where we have obsolete cable, there can be such problems, but elsewhere in this community they are rare..

No comments:

Post a Comment