Amazon Echo: How my 70-ish Parents Have Embraced Home Automation - Sort Of

Amazon Echo: How my 70-ish Parents Have Embraced Home Automation - Sort Of

Jun 18, 2017 June 18, 2017

Meet Alexa
For the uninitiated, Alexa is your in-home virtual assistant from Amazon. It is a voice-enabled service that comes with the wireless Amazon Echo range of smart speakers. Available in “echo”, “dot” and “tap” variants, the intelligent speakers are always listening (once linked to a power source and internet). Simply say one of the wake words - Alexa, Echo or Computer – and get ready to welcome a life of convenience.
With Alexa, you can accomplish a range of tasks. Just say “Alexa”, followed by your voice command and you can easily schedule your morning alarm, play your favorite song, dim the lights (for smart homes), call for an Uber and cook dinner (okay, not the last part yet, they might take a while to get there.) Nonetheless, Alexa is changing the way some homes -- and people -- function, for the better.

Amazon Echo Alexa
Photograph: Courtesy of Amazon - Amazon Echo device
 
Meet the Parents
My dad, Cyrus loves socializing, parties and telling jokes. My mom, Homa enjoys cooking and keeping up with Cyrus. Both are retired baby boomers, who spend their days in a waterfront condo in Miami’s Biscayne Corridor.
 
How my parents use Alexa?
My parents have been using the Amazon Echo since my dad’s birthday on Feb 2nd, 2017. So not too long. I had to set it up for my parents, but I am pretty sure they -- well, my mom -- could have figured it out on their own. It is not too complicated. Once set up, I could see Cyrus gravitate towards it more than Homa.
 
Today, Cyrus gets his news Flash Briefings several times a day from Alexa. He also loves listening to music, so Alexa fetches him his daily dose of Frank Sinatra and other classics.
Cyrus loves listening to jokes (and re-telling too). Although Alexa’s sense of humor isn’t as sharp as Cyrus’, he does remember one particular joke from her that he likes to share. “So, why did the football coach shake the vending machine?” he asks. “Because he needed a quarterback”, he chuckles.
 
For Homa, Alexa is a great assistant while cooking. She can listen to her favorite classics, as she whips up dinner. Also, “I don’t need a separate timer now. It’s much easier to call out the alarm on Alexa whenever I’m cooking to keep track”, she says.
 
Both Homa and Cyrus love checking up on their daughter in DC. “We ask Alexa for the weather forecast in DC, as it can get pretty bad there. So, when the weather is really bad, we call her directly to see if she’s doing okay.”

Amazon Echo Alexa
Photograph: Courtesy of Amazon - Amazon Echo device
 
His Only Complaint
Alexa doesn’t catch accents easily (and they have Middle Eastern roots), so Cyrus ends up requesting the same thing twice or thrice before hitting the home run. Pandora’s library (you can connect your Pandora account to the device. I set that up for them too) is a bit limited too, as it doesn’t usually turn up with Cyrus’ request for Middle Eastern songs. “Sometimes I hear a song on the radio and want to listen to it again, but if I ask Alexa for it, she won’t recognize it or turn up with another melody”, he says.
 
Her Only Complaint
Homa mentions that unless you’re specific with your recipe names, chances are you won’t find what you’re looking for. Especially if you simply request a ‘soup’, you’ll be on a wild goose chase. Although the app has upgraded to include a good load of recipes, Homa hasn’t warmed up to using it regularly quite yet.
 
But her biggest complaint is that she has to hear Cyrus’ news and stock updates all the time.
 
Can Alexa get annoying?
Alexa is listening all the time. So, most users complain that she butts in unrequested at times. When asked, Cyrus mentioned that this one time he was trying to get his friend to ask Alexa to do something. Since Alexa cannot distinguish between voices, she popped up asking “what would you want me to do”. According to Cyrus, this actually led to a funny moment rather than annoy anyone.
 
The only slight annoyance (they don’t really get annoyed as they are relaxed folk) according to my parents is the volume control. Alexa doesn’t always seem to understand how many decibels “lower” they’d like her to go. “At times Alexa can get very loud, so when we ask her to go ‘lower’, we have to repeat two or three times for the volume to adjust to a comfortable level”, says Homa. (They could easily fix this by asking Alexa to lower to a specific volume, like “Volume 5”. They were happy for the tip.)
 
Does Alexa make people rude?
A lot of articles have been floating around the web mentioning that Alexa is encouraging kids to be rude, since the virtual assistant doesn’t require common courtesies. However when I asked my parents, they said they usually end up saying please each time they have a request for the virtual assistant. “It comes so naturally to say please that it’s funny how often we say ‘Alexa, please…’”. So, I guess all those naysayers can rest their case.
 
What’s next?
Cyrus would love to take Alexa out (of course, he has Homa’s consent). Cyrus says he’d love to create a playlist for his next party or get-together and play DJ provided he could have some help with setting up and syncing Alexa at the venue.
 
When asked if they will be using Alexa to call an Uber or order pizza anytime soon, they say “we don’t really have the need for that, we have two cars and prefer home-cooked meals, so we won’t be using Alexa for such things.” Also, with no smart home devices around their home as of yet, their chances of controlling home appliances are ruled out for now as well. 
 
What I’m going to get Alexa to do for them in the near future?/What I’m going to get them to use Alexa for next?
I will certainly be encouraging them to buy Alexa/Echo-compatible devices from here on out. I’d love for them to be able to control their TV with Alexa, but it would take a $100 device and some time setting it up. But being able to watch them ask Alexa to turn the TV on to their favorite channel or app, or to change the TV volume,  would bring a big smile to my face. So would them being able to change the a/c temperature or turn on and off lights without having to get up. And for my mom, I would love to have her be able to turn on the coffeemaker, turn off the stove or check how much time is left on the oven timer from the couch.
 
Would Cyrus and Homa recommend Alexa?
Yes, certainly. Both Cyrus and Homa unanimously agree that Alexa is a very helpful virtual assistant and a good thing to have around the house. “If someone is tech savvy or has people to help with set up, they should get Alexa”, they say. Cyrus further points out “Alexa is great for people who love music and like to stay updated with the news”.
 
Do you own an Alexa? We’d love to hear your side of the story in the comments below.

Amazon Echo Alexa
Photograph: Courtesy of Amazon - Amazon Echo device

Contact Us
Sep Niakan
Broker / Team Lead
(305) 697-7667
sep@blackbookproperties.com
Request Info
By sending you agree to CondoBlackBook's Terms of Use

Your Miami Condo Awaits

Recent Posts

Miami’s New and Pre-Construction Condo Update: June 2022
Preconstruction Miami’s New and Pre-Construction Condo Update: June 2022
As reported in our May update, we continue seeing developers fanning out into low-density neighborhoods, trying to catch up with heightened buyer demand for luxury housing in Miami. This June, the Related Group announced Icon Residences for North Miami, MG Developers announced plans for Alhambra Parc in Coral Gables, and Matthew Rosenblatt proposed building a 25-story condo in Aventura.  Trying to cash in on a red-hot luxury condo market, developer Allen Morris Co. proposed converting its apartment rental project in Coral Gables into a luxury condominium. This June, the highly anticipated Estates at Acqualina started with closings – days from welcoming its first residents. The Okan Tower broke ground. Onda Residences made “waves” by securing construction financing. And, Aston Martin Residences started showing signs of an on-schedule completion. Read on for more details on these and other updates in our Miami condo pre-construction market roundup for June 2022: June 2022 - Miami...
VIDEO: Boom or Bust? Here’s the latest with Miami's Luxury Real Estate Market & What YOU Need to Know
Video Blog VIDEO: Boom or Bust? Here’s the latest with Miami's Luxury Real Estate Market & What YOU Need to Know
What’s the latest with Miami’s Luxury Condo Market? In this video, Sep Niakan analyzes solid MLS numbers for the month of May 2022 and talks about what we are seeing in the current market. You’ll also find answers to how the preconstruction market is in overdrive, whether we’re in another boom & bust cycle, and what we expect for the middle of 2022. Watch the video below. Miami is a Market Unlike Many Others While the national headlines prevail with fears about real estate markets crashing, Miami is showing it’s not willing to follow along, for now. Continuing it’s strong record-breaking trends from Q1 2022,  a quick summary of the numbers from May include: Slight Dip in Overall Luxury Condo Sales: 256 sales, down from 261 in April Days on Market down to new low: 49 Days Inventory* down to new low: 6 months (Lowest EVER recorded in Miami) For more complete market data and performance information, read our Comprehensive Q1 2022 Miami Luxury Condo Report here. What’s Driving the...
Related Group Plans Waterfront Icon Residences in North Miami’s Keystone Point
Preconstruction Related Group Plans Waterfront Icon Residences in North Miami’s Keystone Point
If the Related Group has its way, North Miami could be looking at its next wave of luxury residential development. Planning to perch the sleek, 15-story Icon Residences on the causeway heading to Bay Harbor Islands at 123rd Street, the brand-new condo building will likely set the precedent for luxury high-rises in the area. Purchased in November 2021 for $11 million, in partnership with Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, the bayfront site is currently home to the shuttered-down White House Inn hotel. The vacant, 2-story inn was built in 1969 and has been closed and fenced down since 2014. Playing to a tough crowd, the Related Group will need approval from four out of five council members to go ahead with its plans. Vacant White House Inn hotel Related’s Icon-ic Residences In full Related Group flair, Icon Residences is proposed to be a $150 million, waterfront condo project. Designed by Arquitectonica, the 15-story tower would feature 54 impeccable, oversized condo residences averaging...
Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale - July Events at a Glance
Lifestyle Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale - July Events at a Glance
Summer is in full swing in Fort Lauderdale! With a spectacular mix of art events, music concerts, and Fourth of July festivities, we’ve got the perfect mix of events for you and your family! First off, check out these great picks for a fun Fourth of July weekend. Then explore multiple art exhibits, including Load We Carry by Megan Hildebrandt, Tranquil Tropics by Tim Forman, Our Canopy by Jen Clay, and Flotsam Fauna at the Flamingo Gardens. Rolling Loud is coming to town with Ye, Future, and Kendrick Lamar for headliners. There are plenty of pet-friendly evenings to choose from and events to find your furever friend!  Read below for these and more in our complete list of Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale for July 2022:  Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale - July Events at a Glance Special: Fourth of July 2022 Events July 2022: Fort Lauderdale Events Performances at the Hard Rock: Throughout July Artist Talk with Megan Hildebrandt: July 1 Conscious Gardening and Permaculture for Your...
How to Spend the 4th of July in Miami & More Summer Events 2022 - Miami Swim Week, Rolling Loud Miami, Swedish House Mafia, Ballet Festival
Lifestyle How to Spend the 4th of July in Miami & More Summer Events 2022 - Miami Swim Week, Rolling Loud Miami, Swedish House Mafia, Ballet Festival
Summer is hot in Miami and so are the events. We’ve got all you need to celebrate July with a bang! With an overflowing events calendar this summer, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Continuing with Miami Hotel discounts and topping those with Miami Spa special savings, you won’t be able to resist a weekend or two for self-care. Music lovers of every sort are in for a treat as the Rolling Loud Fest, Miami Salsa Festival, MB Classical Music Fest, Seaside Summer Fest, and Swedish House Mafia hit the stage in Miami. There are also plenty of summer camps and activities to keep the kiddos blissfully busy. Not to forget, the Fourth of July is right around the corner and Miami’s night sky is going to be lit with fireworks and the sweet smell of all-American barbecues. Check out our special curation of Independence Day events to make the holiday even more spectacular. And, read more below for a complete list of Top Things to Do in Miami this July 2022: Things to Do in Miami - July Events at a...
The 5 Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in Downtown Miami
Real Estate News The 5 Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in Downtown Miami
Downtown is, and continues to evolve as, one of Miami’s top neighborhoods, especially because of its central location to all that Miami has to offer, its views of Biscayne Bay, and its major public transportation hubs. In recent months, developers have been delivering world-class projects with unmatched luxuries in this urban core.  Today, a host of ultra-luxury buildings call Downtown Miami home, and we’ve listed the 5 Most Luxurious Condo Buildings in the neighborhood that set the bar for top-notch living. We’ve also included a few bonus pre-construction condo buildings that will provide even more luxurious lifestyle options for you to choose from if you’re looking to move to Miami or invest in this international city. Last updated on June 23, 2022 Why Choose Downtown Miami? Downtown is home to some of Miami’s best art, culture, shopping, entertainment, and social hotspots. It not only ties for #1 on our 11 Most Walkable Neighborhoods in Miami report, but is also the best...