Alexa Meets Skype

Amazon does it again with the introduction of their new “Echo Show” series of innovative speakers. The Echo Show has a 7 inch touch screen and a video camera that allows people to place video or voice calls to each other over a Wi-Fi connection. The new innovation can also talk to Alexa—the virtual assistant that powers the device—and ask it to play songs, order products and even turn on household appliances.

Beyond talking to Alexa you can also call friends and family through the Echo speakers and, with the touch screen on one of the device, you can see them while having a conversation. This latest innovation from Amazon is another entry into the growing market of internet communications tools, like Skype from Microsoft, Google’s “Hangouts” and “Face Time” from Apple.

So while many have given up their landlines at home in favor of smartphones, this new innovation is a simple kind of replacement allowing people to simply command their Echoes to call someone rather than using their phones.

Amazon’s obvious goal is to have Alexa and Echo make it easier for anyone to shop online, control your household and communicate verbally rather than manually on your smartphone, laptop or pad. Besides contributing to their customer centric philosophy of the “everything anywhere” store, this innovation is projected to allow Amazon to own about 70 percent of the voice-enabled speaker market in the U.S.

Market research firms estimate that more than 35 million Americans will use a voice-activated device this year, which is more than twice the usage last year.

Amazon’s unique approach to the constant search for innovation is a model for any company that wants to survive in the technology driven marketplace of the future. This innovation came from figuring out how to package technologies like artificial intelligence with voice recognition in a device for the home that could be utilized by verbal commands.

This is an example of a new category of products under the concept of “ambient computing” – devices that can be controlled in a communal setting primarily with voice recognition. These products will become more and more common in the car, the home, office, and other settings like hotels.

Obviously, the business applications are huge, and not too far away. Just think about what the Echo screen allows like the ability to stream meetings, promotions, display graphics, calendar events, and voice-dictated text messages that can be sent to other Echo devices.

The Echo Show device fits very nicely in the office, as well as the kitchen or family room.

As this new device illustrates, the message is clear: innovate or evaporate!

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Robert Donnelly

Robert M. Donnelly is an author, educator and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His consultancy business is called DoctorBusiness.com. His corporate life was spent in executive positions with IBM, Pfizer and EXXON and then as the CEO for several U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms. Professor Donnelly is on the faculty of Saint Peters University as well as Rushmore University, a global online university. His latest book is Personal Brand Planning for Life, available on Amazon. He also functions as an interim executive. You can contact him at rmdonnelly@aol.com or visit his website at DoctorBusiness.com.

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