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The Voice Of The People

“Alexa, play WWOZ.”

I probably say it at least once a day, if not more, and it’s usually from a different room than where my Amazon Echo sits.

Those three words result in a quick connection to the TuneIn app which then starts playing my favorite radio station in the world — New Orleans public radio that plays nothing but regional jazz, blues, zydeco, soul, gospel, classic R&B and rock & roll originating from what I consider the greatest music city in America.

Three words to make me happy in the moment; it’s the epitome of the appeal of technology. I can utter those three words from my chair at my desk in my home office, or when my family is having dinner in the dining room. I can tell Alexa to volume up, or volume down, or set a timer for the steaks I have on the grill while still listening to my beloved WWOZ without lifting a finger. It’s such a little thing and it’s only the first step. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of what is possible I want more. Beyond the ease of having Alexa keep our shopping list, and giving us the weather forecast, or local movie times, I can think of a thousand other applications.

I want to control everything in my house with my voice. “Alexa, have the freezer make more ice but only 4 pounds.” “Alexa, record the Eagles game for me but don’t give me the score until I watch it.” “Alexa, I’m sick of chicken, what should we have for dinner and can you gather the ingredients for our shopping list?”

Turns out Google had the same thought. Its new Google Home platform allows you to verbalize complex instructions and Google Assistant will fulfill your needs.

Feel like going to the theater? Ask Google Assistant and she will respond with a list of shows nearby. But then she can also research ticket options, text the friends you want to invite, find a restaurant and make a dinner reservation for the four of you and reserve a car service to get you there and pick you up. All through voice command.

Yes, James Kirk weeps because The Enterprise’s talking computer was fake. These babies are real.

Check out TWICE contributor’s Michael Heiss’ take on the new Google smart-home product line in our special [email protected] section starting.

There is a showdown coming between the tech giants who all want to control the smart-home/ voice-control ecosystem space, and unlike many of the format wars that we’ve had to endure over the decades, I think this one is a positive one. Amazon set a bar and now Google has surpassed it. Meanwhile, Apple is watching all of this and will likely do the typical Apple thing and refine what’s already been done into something better. And look for Samsung, LG and others Android platforms to dive in to the fray with more gusto.

That type of competition inevitably benefits the consumer, in terms of choice and price, so I, for one, welcome all comers.

Our [email protected] section will catch you up on the ongoing progress in smart assistants, smart appliances, smart TVs, door locks and more. Admire the technology that is advancing at amazing speed.