Amazon

How can I wire echo into my mother's nurse call system?

Judy from Virginia

Episode 1463

Judy wants to know if her mother, who is in a nursing home, can be wired in to call the nurse outdoors. She can't pull the string to call the nurse. The chatroom says that Amazon has the "Add a motor drapery motor" that could maybe do it - https://www.amazon.com/Motor-Drapery-Existing-Add-Motor/dp/B01N8T8OLQ. But Leo says that probably the easiest thing to do would be to buy an Echo Dot for the nurses station. That way your mother can do a "drop in" on with the Echo to call them.

Is Amazon Echo always listening?

Episode 1457

Charmaine from Costa Mesa, CA
Amazon Echo

Charmaine wants to know if she can plug Amazon Echo into a surge protector. Leo says of course! Charmaine also worries that it's always listening. Leo says it is, but it doesn't actively listen unless she says one of four words: Amazon, Echo, Alexa, or Computer. It's only listening for those words. Once it hears the wake word, then it turns on the microphone and sends her request.

Can Amazon Echo be used to spy on me?

Episode 1457

Mark from South Carolina
Amazon Echo

Mark wants to know if Amazon Echo is going to be used in cars. Leo says it will. In fact, Leo just installed one in his. And we'll soon see Google's Assistant there, too. It's the next big thing in computing. Mark is also concerned that Echo could be used to spy on him. Leo says that's possible. But Leo doesn't think Amazon wants to manage all that information and the risk to its business if it was discovered that Amazon was snooping on customers would be devastating. But then again, law enforcement could always subpoena to have access to it.

How can I keep my Echo from crashing?

Episode 1454

Brian from Indio, CA
Amazon Echo

Brian's Amazon Echo has been misbehaving since the New Year. It keeps failing and restarting. Leo says that indicates a faulty device. It may be overheating or is worn out. Amazon really doesn't have a good suggestion either, so Leo recommends contacting them about an RMA return. There is a reset button, though, so he could try that first. It's a little hole at the base of the device. He'll need to use a paperclip to press it in, and he'll have to hold that button down for a few seconds to reset it.

How can I hack my Echo?

Episode 1449

Bill from San Carlos, CA
Amazon Echo Dot

Bill wants to know if he can hack the Echo to make it more powerful. Or would he be better off going with Google Home? Leo says that both are good, so he should pick one and stick to it. Leo advises buying the cheaper Echo Dot. It has Bluetooth and line out, so he can connect it to a really nice powered speaker. He can also do a party mode where they are linked and synced together. He can then create zones for different music, or have them all play the same thing.

Why doesn't the Amazon Echo understand me?

Episode 1448

Jay from Los Angeles, CA
Amazon Echo Dot

Jay has an Amazon Echo Dot and the Logitech Harmony system, and sometimes the Echo simply doesn't do anything. Leo says it can do that if it doesn't understand the command. Leo suggests turning on the "ding" feature that will signal that it understands him. He can also use the Amazon Echo app on his phone and look at what the Echo is doing. Then he can see if and why it didn't understand him.

What voice assistant is best for artificial intelligence?

Episode 1435

Robert from Mira Mesa, CA
Google Home

Robert wants a voice assistant that has the best artificial intelligence. He wants to be able to ask it a variety of different questions about the news. Leo says the Google Home is the winner in that category, but the Amazon Echo is the only device that lets you shop on Amazon. Amazon is also very good with music, and simple commands like setting a timer, and home automation tasks. There's also more than 50,000 third party skills on the Echo. The problem is that it's hard to find skills, and then he'd have to learn the specific syntax to use that skill.

How can I connect my Sonos to the Amazon Echo?

Episode 1432

Doctor Mom from New York
Sonos Play:1

Doctor Mom has managed to add her Sonos to the Amazon Echo by installing the Sonos Skill and letting it discover them in the devices section. It does have limitations, though. It can't play Spotify or Audible. The Echo will also immediately turn off all the speakers when it wakes up. The Sonos skill isn't really ready for prime time just yet. That's why she recommends getting the Vaux External Speaker for the Echo Dot, because you can drop the Dot right into it.