Echo and Alexa in Vegas
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is not only a motto but the mantra of a town built for sin in the desert. Where bright light mix with high stakes may likely be the last place you would want plugged into the Cloud that innervates almost every aspect of life, constantly sending and receiving data. But Amazon’s new Echo speaker platform will offer guests at the world famous Wynn Las Vegas the chance to control the mood in their hotel rooms with just a few words.
Billed and built as more than just a high end speaker, Amazon’s Echo speaker is more like a butler for the internet than just a buddy with a good music list. The ghost in the machine, or in this case the Echo, is none other than Alexa – Amazon’s powerful cloud interactive program. This hands free voice controlled speaker connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information like news, sports scores, weather and so much more instantly and all you have to do is ask for it.
The Echo has seven microphones and beam forming technology to enable hearing from across a room even while music is playing. Echo’s expertly tuned speaker can fill a room with 360⁰ sound but can respond to your commands as soon as you say the wake word “Alexa”.
Perhaps it’s the sensitive microphones that give many pause for thought for having such a connected piece of technology in a town built upon, and famous for making and keeping secrets? Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos offers the Vegas faithful. Describes Bezos “We’ve done something a little unusual with Echo,” Bezos said. “It would be no different from your phone, but we went one step further than what’s done on a phone. When you hit the mute button on Echo, that red ring comes on that says the microphone is turned off. That mute button is connected to the microphone with analog electronics. You have to come physically tamper with the device. You couldn’t do it with a computer virus.”
He goes on to reassure that “One of the great issues of our age is going to be privacy,” Bezos said. “People don’t think about it, but if you have a mobile phone in your pocket, it has microphones on it, and those microphones are under software control. And I would posit to you that just about any nation state in the world worth its salt can put a computer virus on your phone, anytime they want, and listen to everything you say from your cellphone.” In essence Bezos assures your Vegas room secrets are safe with Echo and Alexa, but maybe you should leave your cell phone at the bottom of the pool.
What will give guests the benefit of Echo and the Alexa Voice Service is that the device is always learning, and the more you ask of it the more it can give you. Far beyond music you can ask for the things that you need like Uber and Domino’s Pizza. You can control your hotel room temperature and even dim the lights.
Could it be that if you frequent the Wynn Las Vegas enough you will end up with a digital assistant that knows your every desire and has them waiting for you when you arrive? Time will tell, but giving guests that personal touch has seen Wynn Las Vegas thrive in a very competitive gaming market.