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Amazon Echo

Have you read about Amazon Echo? It is a new consumer product from Amazon that users can ask it questions and receive answers, tell it to play music, request it to add items to your shopping/to do list, etc.

I first saw a video about it in October and quickly signed up to receive an invitation to purchase the product. I received my invitation this month and Echo should arrive at my house in May.

I’m pretty excited about it for a few reasons. First, Amazon is letting people develop for it. I’m already brainstorming ways the product can be used in both my home and office.

Second, I can’t wait to be able to talk to a device without having to push a button. The reviews for the voice recognition aren’t perfect, but they seem really good for a first launch.

Finally, I’m also really interested in it as an information retrieval tool. I don’t claim to be able to predict the future, but I think devices like Echo will be a new way that people access information. It seems like a logical next step.

This only emphasizes the importance for people to understand their information need, to understand biases associated with information retrieval tools (to find answers to questions Echo reviews Wikipedia, a few other databases, and will conduct a Bing search), and the amazing role that algorithms are going to play in the future. Algorithms already play such a big role in how people retrieve information. With tools that tell people answers to their questions users won’t even see other options. They will only be told one answer.

Image Courtesy of Flickr user jm_escalante CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I’d love to chat about Echo. Do you have ideas for how to use it?