Smart Home Ideas for Small Businesses – using Echo Dot

Smart Home Ideas for Small Businesses - image of Echo Dot

This can help entrepreneurs !

Usually I am working in the depth of issues.  Clients come to me for help with their accounting.  Sure, we can have fun conversations about their business, but many times it is serious conversations.

But, today I am setting aside issues for something fun: Amazon’s Echo dot – the new 3rd gen. There are many things the Echo Dot or the Echo (similar and more expensive) can do, but today let’s look at a few things the Echo Dot can do to help us in our small businesses.

What is the Echo Dot ?

To begin, the Echo Dot is a voice-controlled “smart” speaker.  We talk to the speaker “Alexa” … and she talks back.

Basically:  Alexa is our personal assistant !

1st things 1st: How much cost and time

Installation

The installation is great.  It works … quickly- less than 30 minutes.

When things work, I am always surprised.  Throughout the year, I review software and techy tools because I need to be efficient for my clients; but learning new software and tools sometimes is anything but efficient.  I can’t tell you the number of times that I was exhausted because things just did not work the first time (or 5th time) and I was forced to go online with a chat session, email, or call.  So, when something works . . . it is amazing to me!

Here’s what we need

  • Echo Dot.  As of 3/14/19  it is $49.99 on Amazon — with a discount if we buy (2).
  • Internet and WiFi (one of the first things we do is connect the app to the internet)
  • Amazon Echo app on a smart phone
    • Which means we also need to have an Amazon account
  • Different items we want Alexa to control like a smart light-bulb (there are so many items to choose from and also many different brands)
  • As a note: this is a speaker, but if  you love music, want to use Alexa, but want a better speaker, you can connect to an external speaker

What does the Echo Dot do?

Alex answers questions

You may think Echo is more of a toy with cute features.  But for us entrepreneurs, who are working too many hours and juggling too many tasks . . .  it can actually help us throughout the day.  Here’s some questions we can ask:

  • “What’s the temperature?”
  • “What’s the temperature like later today?”
  • “What time is it?”

Alexa works with other devices

We can talk to Alexa and have her communicate to other devices:

  • “Turn on the lights”
  • And what I love:  “Dim the lights”
  • “Turn off the lights”

We can even have the Echo Dot sync with our heating system or a door lock:

  • “Turn the heat to 70”
  • “Lock the door”

Some other things Alexa can do

Amazon states that Alexa has over 50,000 skills.  Here’s a few more ideas for small businesses:

Help throughout the day

  • Set a reminder so we don’t forget to make an important phone call.
  • Set an alarm at night to get up early for a meeting.

This is Great

If we use Google Calendar, we can link to our Google calendar.

  • Then we can use commands to ask what appointments we have for the day . . . or for tomorrow . . . etc.

How?  Settings / Email & Calendar / Add Account.

Music

Here’s some info for all you music lovers.

  • We can listen to the radio.
  • If we subscribe to music services, we can ask the Echo Dot to play a certain song or play a song by a certain artist.
    • For example, if we have Amazon Prime, there are additional benefits and one is accessing Amazon Music through the Dot.
  • If we subscribe to a service like Audible, we can ask Echo to play an Audible selection.

Note it may not be a tool to use at the office if you don’t have privacy because this is a speaker and not earbuds, but if you have a private office, this could be great. 

It gets better and better

Wake word

I keep learning more and more about the Echo Dot.  Here’s a problem I had: we have two Echo dots in different rooms, but Alexa can have really good hearing.  This sometimes causes a problem because both echos, at times, would respond.

Solution: change the “wake word” on one of the Echo Dots.

As we give a command, we start by saying “Alexa”, which is the “wake word”.  If we want to change it, we simply say: “Alexa, change the wake word”. This starts the process to allow us to set up another word to use instead of “Alexa”.

Subscription cost

The monthly cost: Nothing.  We just buy the Echo Dot.

That’s the only requirement.  But, if we want to have the Echo Dot help us with lights or locks, etc. then we need to purchase compatible devices like a smart light-bulb.  And for extra music, we need to purchase a music subscription (available from a variety of places).

Learning about the Smart Home may help us have a Smart Business!

Disclaimer: The information on this post and on the Barb Brady CPA website are for general information purposes only; it is not intended to be accounting, financial, tax, or legal advice. For further information, see Terms of Service