white and black Amazon Echo dot

Echo and Home

BA 207 Intro to E-Commerce

Amazon was the first to produce a voice-controlled device. This device called Echo is connected to a user’s Amazon account. The Echo was designed as a voice-controlled speaker for the Amazon Fire TV. It has evolved to be a digital personal assistant.

The Echo can do things like answer questions, relay recipes for cooking, and shop on Amazon.com. Echo can broadcast news, weather reports, and songs from popular music sites. It can connect to smart lighting systems to control lighting fixtures. The device can also create lists and add items to calendars.

Echo uses a cloud base voice service called Alexa. Alexa stores voice command history and learn from its user. There are some concerns over privacy with Alexa. Alexa uses the recorded history to recommend products to its user. The voice commands are used to create marketing materials. But, the user has control over the information Alexa stores. Users can delete their voice command history either in bulk or one at a time. This information is also deleted from Amazon’s servers.

Amazon released a developer kit for the Echo. This feature is designed to help Amazon remain ahead of companies like Google or Apple. The developer kit, called Alexa Skills, helps make Echo multi-functional in the future. Echo occupies 70% of the market share in the voice-controlled market. Having that edge over other tech companies is important in a fast-changing market.

Echo Plus is an evolved version of Echo. Echo Plus is a hub that connects to other smart appliances. Appliances are becoming “smart” due to a drive to connect everything. Amazon entered this growing market by creating a device to act as a network hub. Echo Plus can operate all smart devices from one location.

Google has a device called Google Home. Home offers some of the functions that the Echo contains. Home provides answers to questions, controls smart devices, and plays music. Home also reads books, schedules appointments, and manages alarms. Home will also send alerts and directions to a user’s smartphone. Home is not connected to an online store like Echo is connected to Amazon.com.

Thoughts on Narrow Search

Search engines have evolved from simple keyword searches. They are more intuitive to the user. But, like most technologies, narrow search engine scope is a double-edged sword.  

Search filter bubbles are helpful when eliminating unnecessary results. If I am searching for new clothes, it is helpful that Amazon yield results based on my previous purchases. The time to search for what I want is shorten my account history. When search for a restaurant based on my likes, Google will recommend places based on what I like. From a marketing and promotion standpoint, custom search results is fantastic. The customers receive what they want based on their tastes with extensive research.

But, there is a downside to a narrow search scope. Filter bubbles promote news articles based on our political bias. This leads to misinformation or uninformed information which in turn leads to distrust. The user is not getting information based on contextual reality.  

Focus searches are great for the marketplace but horrible for news. It would behoove the user to understand how search engines work. If users want true news, they need to clear their search history. If a user needs to shop, there needs to be a in depth search history.

Open Forum

With this site, I’m going to try something… keeping comments and the forum open for visitors. Over the years, I’ve been skittish about allowing comments on my content. I know well how trolls work and how susceptible I am to falling for negative comments. However, this site is more about demonstrating my abilities with WordPress. Businesses do open their sites up for customers to answer questions and address concerns. It’ll behoove me to do the same. I may not like the idea but I gotta learn to love it (to paraphrase Ric Flair). I’m not opening this site for membership but it is open to the public for comments.