Amazon Echo

Amazon's New Idea ... Amazon Sidewalk

Amazon Sidewalk

Episode 1750

Wanting to offer a neighborhood-based wifi network, Amazon has announced Amazon Sidewalk, which uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) radios to connect everyone from house to house. You can get motion alerts from your security cameras, track your pets if they should run away, and even notifications when the mailman leaves you mail. As long as one device sees the other, it can pass along connectivity with a promised small amount of bandwidth. 

Can I create sound all around the house using Amazon Echo speakers?

Episode 1747

Paul from Columbus, OH

Paul wants to be able to hook up a friend's Amazon Alexa device to his CD system, so he can create a speaker system in every house. Leo says that the Amazon FireTV Cube has an IR blaster that can command your devices from anywhere in the house. But to broadcast the signal on the Echo devices may be a challenge. If they had an audio-in jack, then that would be the easiest. Doing it digitally from your computer and streaming music would be even easier.  But to play physical media over an Echo system is a challenge.

How Can I Add 2 Echos on the Same Account?

Echo

Episode 1741

Karen from San Diego, CA

Karen's mom has an Amazon Echo, but since it's hooked up to her phone, she can't use her own Echo. Leo says the solution is to create a new account for her and then reset it. But it may be possible to use the same account for both, but she may have to reset her brand new Echo to do it.

If she removes her new Echo from her Amazon account and then re-add it, then she should have both on the account. However, the issue with Karen's mom using her phone for her Echo account is that if she calls 911 with Echo, they will go to Karen's house, not hers. That's a problem.

How can I control an Amazon Fire TV remotely?

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Episode 1740

Tim from Toledo, OH

Tim would like to set up his mother's TV to be able to change channels by voice activation. Leo says that the Amazon Fire with an IR blaster would be a great option. She could just talk into the remote. Can he create a remote access for the FireTV as he can with Amazon through the Echo? Leo says that there is a smartphone app that can work as a Fire TV remote, and you can perhaps use that on Tim's phone to make any changes. But you have to be on the same WiFi network for it to work. 

How Can I Turn Off Echo Making Phone Calls?

Alexa

Episode 1729

Steve from Redondo Beach, CA

Steve wants to turn off in his Amazon Alexa. He can't stop his 4-year-olds from making calls. Leo says that he may have to call Amazon Support at 1 (888) 280-4331 and ask them to disable it. Presumably, it's a safety feature in case of emergencies. He could turn off the option in the Amazon app, turning it off device by device. Go to preferences - then communications. There's a disable option by device. Steve said that he looked and the option isn't on in the app. But it still works. So only a call to Amazon will prevent that from happening.

Why Haven't Home Assistants Gotten Smarter?

Assistant

Episode 1713

Old Chef Guy from Aqua Caliente

OCG wants to know if Google can make the Home Assistant voice hardware become smarter. Leo says that the entire IoT space has kinda hit a limit of what it can do, and there's been very little innovation of late. Even for Amazon Alexa and SIRI. At some point, it should increase in power and intelligence. But it has plateaued right now and voice-activated devices are a disappointment. AI isn't very smart, and it turns out it's very hard to do.

How Can I Get My Amazon Echo to Hear Better?

Echo

Episode 1713

Brian from Indio, California

Brian is having issues with his Amazon Alexa Echo Gen 2 and it's starting to have "hearing" problems. Leo says that it's probably an indication that the unit is dying. Brian could reset it. See if that helps. Also, he could plug in an external microphone.

But the good news is, that the new generation Amazon Echo is cheaper and better. He can also get the Echo Dot for under $50 that can connect to his own speakers. 

How Do I Set Up Security Cameras with Alexa?

Arlo

Episode 1675

Stan from Victorville, CA

Stan has Arlo security cameras around his home and several IOT devices around his home. But all his devices go off and warn him if there's movement on one camera, but not the rest. Leo suspects that your other cameras haven't had the notification enabled. ScooterX in the chatroom says that the Arlo cameras linked to his Echo need the skill to do it. Check this technote. He will need to go into his Alexa app and discover all the cameras.