Thursday, December 07, 2017

Why "Alexa?"

According to Amazon's Senior Vice President of Devices, David Limp, there are two reasons why the company's voice service is named "Alexa":

The problem was choosing a word that people didn't ordinarily use in everyday life. "Computer" wouldn't cut it. So after testing various names, the team landed on a word Alexa, that used soft vowels and an "x." It sounded fairly unique.

But the engineers also liked the name for that somewhat geeky Star Trek-ish reason. It was "a little reminiscent of the library of Alexander" which was at one time the keeper of "all knowledge," Limp said.

I suspect a third: It's evocative of ELIZA. Don't know why that occurred to me, but it did and I just thought I'd share.

We've got two Alexa-powered speakers in our home: An Echo Dot and a Eufy Genie. I bought both on sale at ~$20 each.

The Dot is more powerful in certain ways -- it has Bluetooth to connect to a speaker while the Genie doesn't, it can make phone calls to my contact list, etc. -- but they're both good at the basics. "Alexa, what's the weather?" "Alexa, set a time for 10 minutes/alarm for 6am," "Alexa, play some Grateful Dead," and so on. I like them, but obviously your mileage may vary over privacy concerns and so forth.

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