Alexa in our home

Aaron is always looking for new technology to make our home even “smarter.” When we got our first Amazon Echo, I wasn’t sure how often I would use the voice-activated speaker, but now, I’m not sure how I lived without it. (Here’s how we incorporate Alexa into our morning routine.) I’m constantly asking Alexa to set timers, dim the lights, play ____ song or find out how tall a celebrity is (a minor obsession of mine). Here are my five favorite uses for Alexa.

1. Multi-room audio

With multiple Echo’s or Dot’s you can create smart home groups so they act together. For example, our downstairs devices are grouped, so if we want NPR to play on all of them we say,

Alexa, play NPR downstairs

The audio plays perfectly in sync across devices and provides a seamless surround sound effect. Each device can still be used individually but grouping allows the option for multi-room sound. It is especially helpful if you spend a lot of time walking your baby around your house in a carrier and don’t want to miss out on your latest podcast episode.

Set up groups from the Alexa App:

2. Home intercom

Within your home you can use one Alexa-enabled device to call another.  When I first learned about the “drop in” feature, I brushed it off as something I would never use. Turns out it comes in handy when you need to ask someone a quick question from another room or monitor your kids during nap time. Don’t worry, the feature has to be enabled and The Echo’s LED glows bright green while someone is “dropping in”. All you have to say is

Alexa, drop in on the nursery

3. Personalize a bedtime story

Alexa can personalize a bedtime story with the short bedtime story skill. If there are any stories you don’t want to hear, or don’t like, you can disable them through the Bedtime website. The stories are short and your little one will get a kick out of hearing Alexa say their name.

Alexa, tell BedTime story to Max.

Enable Skills from the Alexa App:

4. Create easy to pronounce Spotify playlists

For the past couple months we have gotten use to Max belting out Alexa commands. What we aren’t used to, is Alexa responding to him. For a while every time he said “Alexa, play Thomas theme song”, Celine Dion would come on (not sure why). To help him out, we created Spotify playlists with easy to pronounce names like “Thomas”, so now he can turn on his favorite tunes by saying,

Alexa, play Thomas

5. Task specific timers

Max doesn’t always listen to us when it’s time to take a bath, put his toys away, go to school, etc., but he almost always listens to Alexa. For the past couple months, we have been using Alexa to set task specific timers and Max responds amazingly well. He understands that when it goes off, that means he has to stop what he is doing. We are always shocked that he actually puts his iPad away when the timer goes off. We’ve even set a “Grumpy” timer!

Alexa, set Max’s iPad timer to 5 minutes.

What are some of your favorite Alexa features/skills?

On a side note, if you want a decorative way to hide your Dot, I love this adorable owl!

2 Comments

  1. I have 3 of these little darlings and I love them also! Thanks for the great ideas on how to use it further. What light fixture are you using to achieve light percentages? In your other article you mentioned 10% or 80% lighting. Thanks!

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