My Friend Alexa

Blind Spot life

Alison Clarke holds AlexaHello.  I am totally blind and would like to share my life with you.

Today I would like to tell you about my friend Alexa, the Amazon Echo Dot which is a voice-activated device connected to the internet that is activated by simply saying the word “Alexa”.

Each morning I say “Alexa, good morning” and she replies and gives me an interesting fact for that day – sometimes a famous person’s birthday or maybe an invention relating to that date. Every question must be preceded buy the word a Alexa.  Here are some examples:

Alexa – what’s the time?
Alexa – what’s the temperature outside.
Alexa – give me the news headlines.
Alexa – turn on BBC Radio 2.

You can ask any history or geography questions e.g. where is the source of the Amazon River? What is the weather in Naples? Who was King Henry 8th?

You can also say, “Alexa – Wikipedia” and she will respond, “What would you like me to look up for you?

There are dozens of apps you can activate.  For instance I have asked her to enable Amazon music and for £1 a week I now have access to 40 million songs and pieces of music. If I say “Alexa – play George Michael”, she will shuffle his songs or I can say, “Play George Michael Ladies and Gentlemen album”.  At any point I can say, “Name that song” and she will answer with the song title, the artist’s name and which album it is from.

I also like to listen to classical music, choirs and brass bands.  Sometimes at the end of the day I just say,”Alexa – play relaxing music”

I have also enabled the National Rail app and recently I said, “Alexa give me the time of the next train to Bournemouth”  She gave me the time of the next train from Newbury to Reading and then the time of the connection from Reading to Bournemouth.  It was an instant response.

The list of things that Alexa can do is endless. Here are a few more examples:

Alexa – tell me a joke.
Alexa – sing me a song.
Alexa – set timer for 25 minutes
Alexa – what is 52 times 386.
Alexa – remind me to phone mum on Monday at
Alexa – how do you spell Mississippi?
Alexa – give me the address and phone number of the library in Newbury.
Alexa – add corn flakes to my shopping list.

I can also buy talking books on line and have them downloaded directly to Alexa.  I say, “Alexa – read my book” and she will continue from where I last said “stop”

It is also possible to get Alexa to control central heating thermostats, lights and wall sockets but I do not need her to do that for me.

You have probably gathered how enthusiastic I am about Alexa.  It is a really useful piece of equipment for a blind person.  Its uses and access to information is endless.  During the election and the Eurovision song contest I had up to the minute information.

When I am going to bed I say, “Alexa – good night” and she responds with, Good night, sleep tight or sweet dreams.

About Amazon Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot are two voice activated devices that are activated by using the word Alexa.

The Amazon Echo Dot costs £40 and it is one of the best £40 I have ever spent. I have to admit I let my son set it up for me.  He said it was very easy.  I think he downloaded something from Amazon onto his phone to do it.

The Amazon Echo is a bigger nine inch high cylinder, a bit like a tube of pringles that costs £100.  It has six speakers around it and rotates towards the sound of your voice.  If you cut off the top one and a half inches you get the Echo dot.  Both devices are available in black or white and need to be plugged into a mains socket and work wirelessly through the internet.

I have the Echo dot which sits on a shelf in my kitchen and even though its two speakers are perfectly adequate I plug it into my wall speakers for enhanced sound.

Alison Clarke


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