A local TV news segment told the story of a girl who talked to Amazon Echo and accidentally ordered hundreds of dollars in toys and cookies through the automatic ordering feature. In doing so, the radio station triggered homes all over San Diego that have Amazon Echo to do the same thing. Leo says it's important to make sure you have parental controls on to avoid this, and to train yourself to not use the "A" word when talking about things it may mistakenly use to order for you.
Curtis is a podcaster and uses a Heil PR40 for his microphone. Leo says that podcasting is fun when you're not trying to make a living at it. It's work if he wants to make it into a job, and a tough one at that.
What about the Amazon Tap? Leo says that the only difference between the Dot and the Tap is the battery. The Tap is portable, but it doesn't listen all the time. It only responds when you press a button. How should he set up the Echo? Leo says to just call it Echo, but he'll have to avoid using that word while podcasting.
Dave is looking to get his daughter a Polaroid type camera for Christmas. Leo says the Polaroid Pic is very popular and prints small business sized photos. The trick may be finding film, but instant cameras are coming back, so that may not be an issue. The film isn't cheap, however. Kids think they're fun. Leo says they're a great idea for teenagers.
Cindy wants to know about the Amazon Echo. Leo says that the cool thing about the Echo is that Amazon opened it up to create more functions for it, called "Skills." To date, the Amazon Echo has over 3,000 skills it can handle. If she's an Amazon Prime member, she can tell it to buy stuff and ship it to her. She can tell it to stream music, too. If she has a stereo system, she can save money and get the Amazon Dot and plug it in.
Pete is trying to decide between Amazon Echo or Google Home. Leo says he'd definitely pick the Echo. The Echo Dot, a smaller and less expensive version of the Echo, is designed to connect into a speaker system. It's also only $50. It's way ahead of Google Home with hundreds of tasks and recipes that enable Echo to do a variety of things. Google Home is way too new, but chances are, it'll get smarter quicker. Pete could connect the Echo Dot to a speaker and he'll have a stereo. It's amazing.
Ellie likes the idea of Google Assistant and wonders if it will be coming to home automation like the Amazon Echo. Leo says that the Amazon Echo is a great device and it keeps getting smarter. As for Google Assistant, Google's goal is to have it everywhere, so it likely will be.
Ellie also wants to know if AT&T buying Time Warner will affect her internet access. Leo says no, Time Warner sold it off to Spectrum. The $80 Billion acquisition of Time Warner is all about content.
Ricardo got an Amazon Echo for his birthday and he loves it. He's wondering how smart it can get, though. Leo says it can play music, get the weather, and hundreds of other information gathering techniques based on Echo "recipes." It's getting smarter. Artificial intelligence, thanks to machine learning, is growing by leaps and bounds, except for Siri on the Apple platform. Siri is actually getting dumber because Apple values privacy more than gathering the data needed to make it smarter.
Switchmate is a one-second installation smart light switch that is the first smart home product that can be used with absolutely no configuration, tools, wiring, or WiFi. Switchmate magnetically attaches instantly to existing toggle or rocker switches and is controlled through the free app on your smart phone. With features such as “Welcome Home”, your lights will turn on automatically as you arrive home or enter rooms. With preset timers, you can set your lights to automatically turn on and off- even when you’re not home.
Tom is blind and he bought the Amazon Echo Tap during Prime Day this week. He's interested in adding Skills. Leo says that Skills are extensions that add functions to the Echo and it's fairly easy to write a skill using their cloud based platform. They are limited in how you can implement them, though. Amazon also has an Alexa Skills Store that Tom can search.
Chris is building a house and wants to get into home automation. Should he go with something wired or wireless, and what about the security of it? Leo says that we are still at the very beginning of home automation. There are a lot of systems and no standard has really been established. Most modern home automation systems are wireless, now. Everyone uses their home Wi-Fi networks to operate them. To future proof it, Leo would advise putting conduit into the walls as a kind of tunnel so he can put in fiber or some other wires should he decide to.