CAN I ASK YOU A QUESTION?
I was talking with my friend Pat the other day and mentioned that although Amazon doesn’t tell you how much business each product line is generating, it’s clear that they've had successes and failures. Their cloud computing services division appears to be both very lucrative and strategic, but they’ve also abandoned the idea of an Amazon Phone. I heard that the engineers who were working on the phone project were switched over to another product called ECHO.
Simply put, ECHO is just like Siri on the Apple iPhone or Cortana on Android phones EXCEPT rather than being on your phone it is a physical product that sits on your table like a big back tube. No keyboard. Connect it into your wireless system and you just talk to it. The name that ECHO answers to is ‘Alexa’ and for now that can’t be changed. “Alexa, what’s the weather like today?”.”Alexa, How long is it gonna take me to get to the La Brea Tar Pits?”, “Alexa play any Lou Reed song”. It's stuff you can pretty much already do with your phone which you always seem to have with you. There’s not much new but the big surprise is that ECHO appears to be a big hit. In fact I hear Google is rushing to get their version out.
I guess, discounting the Roomba, it’s more or less the first robot people are letting into their homes. Because these devices are connected to the internet, there’s a lot of time-saving help they can probably dispense controlling your relationship with the ‘internet of things’, but as the ‘artificial intelligence’ behind them matures, so will their ‘artificial personality’, and they’ll know a lot about you.
As these devices become smarter we can look for them to offer suggestions, and we all have heard of the power of suggestion.
When Microsoft bought Linkedin they also acquired Lynda.com (a skill building site). Now when you apply for a job thru Linkedin, ECHO might have the ability to scan the other applicants for that job and ‘suggest’ that perhaps brushing up on your Photoshop skills might be helpful, but hey, it’s just a suggestion. And by the way use this coupon….
Anyway none of this is really much different than what happens today with online advertising. That’s because in all these interactions you’re initiating the request. You start the conversation. That won’t always be the case.
I guess Stanley Kubrick had it pegged with this little tidbit from ‘2001’.
HAL: (To Dave) “By the way, do you mind if I ask you a personal question”?
We’re just an autocorrect away from the “Internet of Things” becoming the “Internet of Thinks”.