Tag Archives | echo

The Return of the Intercom

Image from amazon.com

Have you been to a house built in the 1970’s and noticed that weird speaker system in various rooms? Intercoms were very popular in this era, allowing parents to tell their kids when dinner was ready without yelling across the house.

It seems that now, texting and instant messaging have taken over that role, but it’s possible that intercoms are coming back in a new, modern form.

Amazon just introduced an intercom feature on their Echo devices, allowing you to converse across rooms. It uses a teleconferencing software called Drop-In, and will work with your connected devices once set up on the Alexa app.

All you need to do is name the devices (ie. “Kitchen,” “Bedroom,” “Den”). Then you can activate the intercom simply by instructing Alexa to call that room. The intercom also works from the Alexa tablet and smartphone apps – so you can place calls to the Kitchen straight from your phone.

We can see it now – you’re on your way home from school and starving. You open the app and say, “Hey Alexa, call the Kitchen,” and it would probably immediately be followed by, “Hey mom, what’s for dinner?” Whether your mom will like this feature or not is to be determined.

An interesting feature with the intercom is that it doesn’t work on Wi-Fi – meaning you can connect devices that are in different locations. Now, this is something your mom probably would like – especially if you’re away at school and you bring an Echo device to your dorm.

If you’ve already got Echo devices, the intercom feature is available with the latest app update. If you don’t have Echo devices, here’s where to start for more information.

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Welcome (Google) Home


Video courtesy of CNET

This week, Google announced at its I/O developer conference, a long-awaited competitor for the Amazon Echo – Google Home.

It’s a digital voice assistant, activated by saying “OK Google” (but the plan is to incorporate “Hey Google” as an option as well). The speaker does need to be plugged in to work, but the benefit to this is it enabled Google to add in a powerful speaker – which will be great for listening to music. It’ll also be able to connect to smart home devices (specifically Nest, as Google now owns it) to do things like turn on lights and change the thermostat.

An interesting feature is that the Home will be able to connect to other speakers located in different rooms, allowing you to talk to whichever one is closest and tell it to play music in another room (for example). And of course, you’ll be able to “Google” questions just by talking to the speaker.

Price and launch date haven’t been announced yet, but we’re hoping to hear about them soon. While the Home may not be useful in a dorm room, if you’re living in a house, it could ease your mind with automating things around the house, and be a great party-pleaser speaker for your Friday night get-togethers.

Sign up for announcements on Google Home here.

The Details:

  • Price: No announcement yet
  • Base shell: Comes in different colours so you can match your decor
  • Not portable – must be plugged in
  • Compatible with Chromecast, Nest
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