Recently Amazon announced the Show. It’s an Echo (you know, Alexa) in a box that sits on a counter top with a screen and camera. This may not sound like a big deal but it is. This is the future of hands free computing and potentially a shift in how we communicate with our closest family and friends.
For anyone with any version of Alexa in a contraption at home like an Echo or a Dot, the tower speaker or hockey puck you already know how convenient it can be if you ever use it. As a family we use it for music constantly, my kids use it for the weather every morning. I use it for it’s timer and to tell me how many tablespoons of sugar is in something. It’s kind of like the computer in StarTrek.
Up to now we just communicated with Alexa to garner information most of the time, I’ve never ordered paper towels from it. With the new Show there will be a new form of communicating. Gone are the days of picking up your iPhone to FaceTime with Mom. Gone are the days of having to walk to your bedroom from the kitchen to get your phone to text your besty. Now Alexa will do this all for us, hands free. I could go on about that part for a while but I won’t. What I want to focus on is the FaceTime esque video calling but with 1 single bonus feature and it’s a doozy. Drop In. With this feature you can allow your closest family and friends to video call you without waiting for you to pick up. It automatically connects.
Drop In would be an issue if you added everybody to your Drop In only list but you would probably only add your mom, sister, kids and grandkids. It’s not for your racket ball partner or your kids tutor. Obviously this isn’t a feature you would want activated in your bedroom but it’s probably ok for the kitchen or living room as long as you don’t prance around naked, even if mom has seen it all before.
Where this is really going to be helpful is with the non smartphone owning or less then tech savvy grandparents and kids. I finally see a future where kids can check in on their aging parent even if the parent doesn’t know how to answer the funny looking TV on the counter. I finally see parents able to video chat with their kids while the parent is away and the kid may not already have an iPad.
Stop a minute and take it all in. No more need to text your spouse before FaceTiming with the kids at bedtime when you’re away on business. No more wishing Grandma knew how to use that iPad Mini you got her for her birthday that sits collecting dust except the rare times you call her first to tell her to pick it up and unsuccessfully attempt to explain how to answer it… If it’s even charged.
This is a huge thing for a generation that didn’t grow up with color TV and cordless phones, they grew up on a radio and party line phones. This will be a shift in their communicating with their kids and grandkids. There will be a lot of Amazon Show’s that have blue tape with the word Alexa written in Sharpie on it so they can remind themselves how to activate it. Amazon has a long way to go with this and will need a cheaper second generation Show but for the moment they control the future of this medium.