Alexa in a Lamp

General Electric, the massive multinational conglomerate founded by Thomas Edison which makes everything from medical devices to power plants has a special division called C by GE working on new technology.  The company has announced that they are creating a new smart lamp which includes Alexa voice control.  This is based on the Alexa Voice Service provided by Amazon.

This seems like a great concept and really extends Home Automation into a whole new category.  The new lamp will be available in the middle of 2017, although pre-orders will start in early 2017.  So it could be a little early to see how well this implementation works.  Yet, the Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap and FireTV are not the only places to find Alexa; even today.

This is not the first time we have seen Alexa integrated into non-Amazon hardware.  Last week we saw the announcement of Alexa showing up (speaking up?) in the Martian smart watch.  A startup company, Invoxia sells a portable speaker with Alexa which has a small screen for messaging. 

There is also the Nucleus Anywhere Intercom system which includes Alexa.  This device includes a screen alogn with the ability to use be used as an intercom between rooms in a house.  

This is all coming in place as a result of the creation of the Alexa Voice Service, (AVS).  Amazon has made the ability to add Alexa  voice control to third party hardware.   Amazon does not even charge for it!  Alert to third party hardware manufacturers.   Amazon shirley seems intent on making Alexa the most popular voice assistant in the industry.  

Using AVS in third party hardware comes with one possible caveat.  When Alexa is implemented in non-Amazon devices, it does not get full functionality.  Sometimes music playback is not allowed as well as in early versions of the AVS did not allow the use of a wake word (although that is changed now).  

Finally, if you are into the do-it-yourself scene, Amazon has a tutorial on how to use AVS on a $35 Raspberry Pi credit card sized computer to create your own custom Echo device.

We will see Alexa showing up in more and more hardware of every type.  I just can't wait!  


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