Henry has a few Amazon Echos and wants to know if he can turn his lights on/off with them. Leo says absolutely, but he'll need smart home lights that support the Echo. Philips Hue is one brand. But there are plenty of others out there. He can also get smart switches that enable him to turn things off with his voice. He should search Amazon for "works with Alexa" devices.
Sam is thinking of getting an Alexa or Google Assistant to control his door locks and is worried about security and privacy. Leo says that all assistants are roughly the same. They listen for a keyword. And there's no evidence that either Amazon or Google are spying on you. Schlage makes one that is dedicated and doesn't need the assistant, so it has a directly line which can be more secure. But any iOT device can get hacked. Bottom line is, that no door lock is perfect. It's a deterrent, a suggestion. But if the bad guy wants to get in, he can.
Doctor Mom is calling in to talk about all the latest Echo products put out by Amazon. The Amazon Echo Input, is a speakerless Echo that you can attach to a speaker you already have. Echo can read your email if you ask, too. There's also a feature called Alexa Guard, which willl listen for things like glass breaking and smoke detection, and will turn on all the stereos really loud and then contact the authorities.
Doctor Mom calls in to talk about new features with Amazon Alexa/Echo. You can now not only link your Echo to your cellphone to make calls, but you can also make Skype calls. And while they have Bluetooth built in, you can't add a headset. It's all speakerphone. Apple is going to be showing up on Amazon for the holidays, which Doctor Mom says will kill the HomePod. A great, but overpriced speaker system.
Thursday, Amazon held a surprise Alexa event, announcing 14 new Alexa centered products, with nearly 75 new features. Rich doesn't think it's trivial that Amazon chose the day before the iPhone shipped to grab all the headlines. But Rich also thinks that companies want their customers to be exclusive, and you can end up becoming deeper into their ecosystem, making it harder to use other products outside of it.
Doctor Mom heard about Amazon Alexa recording conversations and sending them to contacts by mistake. How can she make sure that doesn't happen, since she is a doctor and has HIPPA concerns? Leo says Business Insider has a piece on how to prevent it, here.
Doctor Mom says that Amazon is making it easier for Echo users to personalize their Echo by creating their own skills with blueprints.amazon.com. Leo says that creating a skill requires thinking differently, including how a device would listen. But Amazon trying to make it easier, which is a great idea.
Maurice says that Echo is a great idea, and Amazon's $35 Connect box makes it possible to call 911 in emergency situations. Rich says that Echo is designed to not dial 911 because the infrastructure isn't set up for it yet. That's why the optional connect box is a good idea until they get it figured out. But it also has to do with location services for 911. It has to know where the emergency really is.
Bogdan wants to know what home assistant should he buy. Leo says it depends on what he wants to use it for. Google Assistant is better for answering questions, and Amazon Echo is better for shopping and consuming music. Both now support making phone calls. Both will work with home automation devices, so he can tell Echo to turn on the lights. In the long run, Google will probably be the best, though.
Heather wants to listen to the Tech Guy on her Echo, but she can't get it to play. Leo says that's because Amazon has changed the syntax, and now she has to say "Echo, listen to TuneIn TWiT Live." She should try to say the name of the app first, and then the podcast name.