10 things you're dying to tell Alexa
By: Yelekal Mengistu
Who remembers the world before Alexa? I certainly don't. Ever since the voice commands release the Gilded Age of 2014 (So not so long ago), Alexa has generated a lot of buzz in, not just the smart home community, but in tech in general.
Owned by Amazon, Alexa is a voice operated virtual assistant that triggers certain devices to obey commands and prompts that would otherwise be activated through manual input.
The idea was to encourage our voice to be 'the voice of command' by enabling pre-set functions (like 'Set Alarm Clock' or 'Turn porch lights OFF') to manifest with the calling of a "wake word", which in this case is by default Alexa!
Amazon sells its Alexa powered hardware called the 'Echo', which comes in a multitude of versions: Echo (3rd Gen), Echo Dot (3rd gen), Echo Dot with clock for most budget conscience buyers. Others like the Echo Plus (2nd Gen) and Echo Studio tip the scale a bit when it comes to price. These variations offer different benefits, benefits that are distinguished in quality, compatibility and flexibility (like integration with home automation devices).
Most smart devices today have taken advantage of Alexa's popularity by integrating it into their systems, thereby cutting out any hardware from Amazon. manufacturers like ecobee, SAMSUNG SmartThings, Philips Hue, Google Nest, Insteon, LIFX, Wink and more have understood the benefits enough to program their devices to be Alexa compatible.
Alexa is playing a bigger role in households these days
Here are some example of some of the quirky commands you can send to Alexa:
1) Alexa, change the subject
Alexa is not exactly the best at starting conversations but she can be of good use to change one! In comes the Change the subject skill. If you ever feel like switching topics, Alexa is quick to provide a quick joke, a fun fact or simply start a random conversation. Expect phrases like 'Listen to this song that topped the Billboard charts in 1997' or 'Your Domino's' Pizza is on its way' can deter you or your audience away from any unwanted subject.
2) Alexa, give me a random fact.
As knowledgeable as Alexa is, her ability to arouse your interest at any given time is uncanny. With the following command, Alexa will put out a random fact that might amaze, disgust, intrigue or give you concerns. Sometimes you might even succumb to all those emotions all at once.
You can hear a blue whale's heartbeat from two miles away
3) Alexa, open cat food.
Well how does this actually unveil itself? a skill that orders the opening of a can, it can't be possible, surely not. In truth, this command actually triggers a distinctive can opening sound. For all of you feline owners, you know that sound is a paralysis agent. Cats are very aware of it and it signals only one thing: it's feeding time.
The 'Open Cat Food' skilled has had some cats puzzled
4) Alexa, how are you feeling?
It might sound weird asking a virtual voice 'how are you felling?'. Because, obviously there is no life attached behind it so what weird response would you get? Well according to some users, the Share Feelings skill has shown some peculiar results.
5) Alexa, start snoring sounds
Really? Snoring sounds. But, yes, it's true. One of Alexa's skills includes Ambient Snoring Sounds. Weirdly enough, this command is very soothing to those who are used to having snoring sounds ringing their ears. The sound track is looped to make it seem like there is actually somebody next to you gently snoring away. It makes for a decent night's sleep if you ask me.
6) Alexa, do you like Siri?
A digital rivalry you say…Although there doesn't seem to be any trace of any weird response to this command, we encourage you to try it out. And of course, we are very intrigued about the results. Some Reddit users have noticed some irregularities in the voice output whenever Alexa receives a command through another virtual voice (Like Google Assistant or Siri). Number 14 on Tiphero's list of Creepiest Things Alexa have done illustrates just that.
Ever wondered if you can make personal assistants talk to each other?
7) Alexa, I just sneezed
You might not know this but Alexa has good manners but sometimes you might need to inform her beforehand. There is a skill called I just sneezed. We know, seems a little attention seeking, but Alexa is smart enough to give you a response like 'Bless you' or on the funny side, 'Say it, don't spray it'.
Alexa is quick and witty when you try to fish for compliments
8) Alexa, launch egg facts.
To our amusement, this skill was actually sought out quite some time as a lot of Amazon Alexa supporters received the news with great enthusiasm. Think of it as an Egg-cyclopedia, get all the facts on who and what lays them, their nutritional benefits and more.
It has been said that it is impossible to crack an egg by squeezing from top to bottom
9) Alexa, ask Giant Spoon for an advice
No there is no giant spoon that knows it all. In fact, Giant Spoon is a full service marketing agency that focuses primarily on marketing strategy, communications planning, and innovative ideas. The goal is to stimulate any niggling thought you might have when it comes to creating or just brainstorming. The results have sometimes shown mixed results, with some claiming that they're just getting random sentences whilst others have been impressed by some of the ridiculous suggestions Alexa has proposed. Nevertheless, it's always been said any sort of an idea is a good idea if you're stuck!
The 'Giant Spoon' skill can stimulate ideas when you need to boost your productivity
9) Alexa, open animal rescue
A great app for the little ones. Designed for kids aged five and older, this skill houses 10 to 14 levels where kids are designated care takers of animals (Pandas, Tigers and Turtles). Each animal is separately treated and the adventures are designed to help raise the orphaned animals from infancy so that they can grow and reintegrate to the wild. A fun way of keeping the kids entertained with a few lessons attached to them.
Some skills like 'Animal Rescue' offer informative ways to interact with Alexa
10) Alexa, ask Shakespeare Insults for an insult
Tired of using for boring and mundane hurtful words? No…yeah we didn't think so. But talk about creating a solution for a nonexistent problem! This Alexa skill is one of a kind, Shakespeare Insults lets you come up with Elizabethan-style insults that will make you feel like a sophisticated duke form Birmingham!
"Thy vile canker-blossom'd countenance curdles milk and sours beer" (translation: you're ugly)
The skill set of Alexa is endless (well, not really, more than 70,000 and counting!). Although its use is widely projected for easing day to day activities, Alexa's built in skills provide with as much information as they do amusement.
As a smart home device, its popularity has put it in a central position (both literally and figuratively) of the smart home. Now a majority of home devices are able to connect with Alexa, providing smart voice activation capabilities.
Some manufacturers are stepping ahead by integration Alexa in their devices, thus cutting out the need for a smart speaker. Nevertheless, having the Echo or Echo Dot or any other Alexa powered speaker is prevalent in this day and age. Not only do you get a healthy dose of skills set but you can also tie in together all your smart devices together to build you perfect smart home.
Amazon's Echo Dot (3rd Gen) is available at Houzhack for just $34.99.