If you’re familiar with ‘Alexa,’ then you’re familiar with Amazon Echo; they are the same thing. These smart speakers were developed by Amazon as an intelligent personal assistant for the home or office. The device listens for someone in the vicinity to say the word ‘Alexa’ or ‘Echo,’ though users can change the wake-word to ‘Amazon’ or ‘computer,’ and once triggered, it can respond to commands for a range of services, such as playing music, audiobooks or podcasts, recording to-do lists, setting alarms and timers, relating the weather, traffic information, and more. It can also control any smart devices in your home, like electric blinds, appliances, security features, or any other item linked into the home network.
Amazon started developing Echo as far back as 2010, in its Lab126 in Silicon Valley, California, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was the next step in the development of personal devices after the Kindle. Amazon advertised the new device in its first-ever Super Bowl ad in 2016.
The first-generation Echo was only available to Amazon Prime members, and even then by invitation only, until 23 June, 2015, when they broadened its availability to the general population of the United States. It was not available in the UK until 28 September, 2016.
Since its wider availability, Amazon has encouraged other companies to facilitate connection to the device as part of the development of the Internet of Things, and the Smart Home and Smart Office trends.