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Amazon Echo : Cool


Like adding Star Trek or Jarvis to your kitchen, especially if you connect the Echo to some smart switches, smart outlets, or smart appliances that work with it. Amazon continues giving it more features with updates, so its becoming a cooler and more capable product as time rolls on. 

To give the Echo power, it has to link up with switches and outlets it can control. Then you can say "Alexa, Turn the Kitchen Lights On", it will connect to the smart switch and toggle your kitchen lights on hands free. 
Similarly, if you have a plug in lamp, you can plug it into a WeMo adapter, give it a name, then say "Alexa, turn on the accent light" and it will turn on your accent lamp. 
Even cooler, when its time for bed, or when you leave for work, you can say "Alexa, turn off all the lights" and any light that is controlled by this system will turn off, all of them at the same time. 
"Set a timer for 20min" while brewing boiling hot tea, so that you will know when it is ready to drink...... of while cooking something else. Voice control lets you work with your hands and control things that are connected to the Echo with your voice. 
The Echo is a first Gen Kitchen computer, the closest and affordable thing that you can put in your home to give it Jarvis like functionality. 

Alexa
"how is traffic" it knows the route you take and the Echo will give you an estimate. 
Alexa
"Whats the weather going to be like today" and it will give you a local weather report summary" 
Alexa
"Turn on the kitchen lights" and it can do this if you have the right kind of switch installed 
Alexa
"Play pandora station, Toby Mac" and it will link to your pandora and start playing music through a decent speaker system built into the Echo. 
If all goes well, this should be up and running in the home that Meg and I share by the time I turn 33 
smile emoti think that Meg will actuaThe Basic System 

Amazon Echo + 3 WeMo outlets and 2 smart light switches + 
$180 the Echo
$30 per WeMo outlet switch *3 = $90
$40 per wall switch smart = $80 
Sub Total $350
Tax $35 in Wa State 
Estimated Voice Controlled Kitchen "Star Trek" style system
$385 

For my accounting, I will consider this system $400, and ponder over it for a long time before pulling the trigger. This post was as much a review of the idea as a budget planning concept for the tech.

We already have a robotic vacuum, a Neato D75 and it does ok to keep the big open main floor of our home free of floor buggers, cat hair and dust. That was the first home based robotic/ ai device added to our collection of stuff. Its currently asleep in "hard off" mode 
The CES 2016 was a boring show in many ways, mirroring in many ways the evolutionary trends of CES 2015, no revolutions there. VR is still brewing, and expensive for everyone, the Oculus Rift retail version launching at $599 soon, and it has to be plugged into a high end gaming desktop with cords to work correctly..... 
Self driving cars are all the tech talk rage of 2015 and 2016, but they will not be common place for more than a decade, as people gradually and slowly fade out the use of their old clunkers and trade them in/ sell them for newer models equipped with newfangled self driving modes or autopilot : names not exactly nailed down, under the auspices of advanced driver assist features like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. 
Those cool sensors from our smartphones, and stuff like cheap LIDAR and SONAR from drones, these, when integrated into a system by automakers are what make the autopilot possible. The Tesla Model S remains the only realistic vehicle that normal upper middle class people can buy today that ships "autopilot ready" pending more software updates, mostly launching later this year and in 2017, 2018 and onward.

I have to say, the only computer science thing noteworthy is Intel X-Point, and if you have not seen this and know anything about computers, hold on to your socks and watch the video. 

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/3d-xpoint-unveiled-video.html


While wrist mounted computers like the 2nd Gen Moto 360 and Apple Watch or Samsung Gear 2 or Microsoft Band 2, are all the rage today, you might even consider a FitBit a wearable computer, in which case millions of people are already wearing a computer other than their phone, and likely one that pairs with their phone.

Google Glass and other computers that mount to your face (too obscure to even reference) were the talk of the future, there is truth that the Microsoft HoloLens and other VR like headsets that you wear on your face like a helmet will become a serious thing over the next few years.

As for casual normal smartphone users, the face mounter computer will need to be very lightweight like a pair of normal sunglasses if its going to sell well to almost everyone who has a smartphone. Perhaps the same thing can be said for smart watches. They have to really offer all the original use case benefits of the classical watch or eyeglass set with extended or add on digital functionality. The small powerful battery is really what holds this tech back, even the smallest LiPO batteries are kind of chunky for wrist computers, and even worst for something you are supposed to wear like sunglasses, less you have a nasal bridge that likes to hold up a grip of weight with your ears.

The seeds have been planted for big things yet to come, through iterative advances, the next revolution is not self balancing scooters that catch fire, although that was very posh in 2015

Drones have the same battery problems that wearables have, but in an even worst way, like 20min of runtime per charge. This is because most drones today fly like helicopters (energy hog) instead of aircraft (less energy hog), and when the drones switch to aircraft like flight, those 20min helicopter style drone batteries will give similar airplane like drones more like 90min of flight, still a far cry from the 48 hour run time of most smartwatches today.

Gasoline is 12,000 Wh per kilo, roughly 20x more energy dense than a brand new current Lithium Cobalt Carbon battery that you would find in most smartphones today. This is the kind of energy density we need to make drones and wearable computers really cool.

If you replaced a 20min drone battery with one that is 20x more energy dense, then you could get 400min of flight time out of that same drone. If you had a smartwatch that goes 48hr today upgraded with a battery that is 20x more energy dense, then it would run for more than 1 month between charges. Your 1 day power users smart phone battery life could be extended to almost 3 weeks with a battery that is 20x more energy dense. Say it with me "Metal Air Rechargeable" and more specifically Lithium Air battery > in the future these will give that gasoline like energy density to make portable electronics really soar! Expect to see this kind of battery tech at the CES of 2030. For now we can look forward to Lithium Sulfur in 2018 as the next big thing for 2x better battery life in portable electronics, especially electric drones, smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, smartwatches and fitness trackers. 


Perhaps that is one the things I like the best about the Echo, no battery to worry about charging, replacing, running out of juice, etc etc. 

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