Amazon Echo

Is There an Open Source Alternative to Amazon Echo?

Amazon Echo

Episode 1595

Grant from St. Paul, MN

Grant thinks that home assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Echo are great for home automation, but he hates talking to a box and knowing that it listens to everything he says. He wants more control over what it hears and what it doesn't. Leo says that there is an open source version called OpenHab, that is highly customizable and completely internal. And it runs on Raspberry Pi. There's also Mycroft.

Why am I Getting Ads From Another Town in My Stream?

Amazon

Episode 1594

Patti from Los Angeles, CA

Patti listens to the Tech Guy with her Amazon Echo and noticed that she gets commercials from San Diego, not LA. What gives? Leo says that when listening to the stream, the radio station sometimes uses specially sold ads for the internet stream that are more regional, or national in design. So that's likely why she heard ads from San Diego. Her device may also not really know your location, so if she can go into the app, she can add the location and get more accurate ads and weather forecasts.

How can I use an Echo while traveling?

Echo

Episode 1569

Joe from North Carolina

Caller has a generation 1 Echo and a gen 2 Echo Dot for his dad. But he can't get it to log in when they bring it travelling. Leo says that it can largely depend on joining the WiFi of a captive portal network. Leo says a Travel router like the Tiny Hardware firewall would be ideal. They have one called the Trek Travel Router. He can then log into the phone. Just plug the router into the wall, the router will then give you a website to log into.

Can I use Echo to turn on my lights?

Amazon Echo

Episode 1565

Henry from Prescott Valley, AZ

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.

Is there a secure way to remotely lock or unlock my door?

Episode 1560

Sam from Torrance, CA

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.

What's new with Amazon Echo?

Amazon Echo Input

Episode 1550

Doctor Mom from New York

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.