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[So Cool] This Guy MacGyvered His House's Window Blinds To Respond To Alexa Voice Commands

Ever since Amazon announced the Echo, the platform and Alexa's voice commands have been expanding and adding more partners and features. They haven't, however, gained the magical ability to control your house's manual window blinds. It has though become possible to connect Alexa to an Arduino board, which increases the potential uses for the platform.

An enterprising guy has used that to his advantage, MacGyvering his way into smart window blinds with an Arduino (he uses a SmartThings shield for his Arduino to connect it to the rest of his smart home system), a servo, and some lasercut gears. He details the whole process, which I'll be honest in saying I don't understand the first thing about, in an Imgur post that I'll link below.

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Amazon's Tap And Echo Dot Are Now Shipping Out To Customers

Amazon's second generation of Alexa-enabled gadgets is ready to go. The Amazon Tap, a smaller, battery-powered version of the Amazon Echo, as well as the Echo Dot, which can use external speakers for its primary function, should both be heading out to those who purchased them after their recent announcement. The latter is only available to Amazon Prime members who order using Amazon's voice service, with a Kindle Fire tablet or Fire TV. The Tap, along with its cover accessories, are both labelled as "in stock" on Amazon's US storefront.

Both devices represent an expansion of Amazon's Alexa voice command platform, which is itself a competitor to services like Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana.

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Amazon Echo Developers Can Pause Media And Adjust Volume Using Voice Commands After Latest Update

Amazon's little black cylinder likes for you to call it Alexa, and when you do, it's willing to do whatever you say. Well, whatever it can understand, anyway. And one thing it understands is how to adjust volume and pause media after you say its name. This includes the ability to mute and unmute. Pausing, naturally, would be useless without the option to play.

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Amazon Announces Two New Alexa-Powered Devices, The Echo Dot And Amazon Tap

Amazon launched the Echo a while back as the first device with its Alexa voice control system. Now there are two more, each with a different take on the Echo's functionality at a lower price. The Echo Dot is a small connected speaker/mic that can add smarts to your existing speakers, and the Amazon Tap is a portable Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa voice commands.

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Music With Audio Feedback: You Can Now Listen To Spotify On Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo (her friends call here Alexa) has been steadily improving since it launched a little over a year ago. Starting today, this little electronic monolith has a new trick up its sleeve: it can now play music directly from Spotify.

Playing music on Echo isn't exactly new: owners can already stream from services like Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn. On top of that, Echo has always been able to play audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device. However, official Spotify support gives users a lot more control over their listening experience than having to manually manage everything (a common first-world problem).

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Amazon Echo Can Now Tell You About Movies And Showtimes

Amazon's little plastic cylinder packed with electronics has one purpose in life—to answer whatever inane questions you send its way throughout the day. Okay, if you happen to order products from Amazon in the process, that would be nice too, but the other stuff is more interesting.

Take, for instance, the new ability to ask Alexa (that's what you call the lady that lives inside the cylinder with all the electronics) about movies and showtimes.

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[Rumor] Amazon's Voice Assistant Alexa Might Soon Be Working A Double Shift On Fire TV

Alexa, what are you doing tonight? Oh, you'll be in my living room, listening for my every word? I think I like where this is going... You're a very dedicated assistant Alexa. I want to give you a raise and ask you to be a more permanent resident in my life. How would you like to work inside my Fire TV as well as my Echo? No, I didn't say light my fire baby, though I like the way you think.

AFTVnews has been digging through Amazon's Fire OS 5 developer preview and uncovering lots of evidence pointing toward Alexa's arrival on Fire TVs, but whether this includes existing devices or only the next generation ones, they can't be 100% sure yet.

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Amazon Releases Alexa SDK Preview For Developers And Opens Up Echo's Voice Service To More Hardware, Starts $100 Million Fund To Invest In Folks Who Think This Is Cool

Amazon probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think of innovative gadgets. Not anymore, anyway. Hearing a company is producing a ho-hum smartphone based on Android isn't nearly as exciting as hearing about the Kindle for the first time. But with the Echo, the online retailer does have a cool piece of tech on its hands.


The Echo, which recently became available for general purchase in the US, is essentially what you get when you stick Google Now or Siri into a plastic tube. While that may not sound all that creative, delivery is everything. Saying OK Alexa (the name of the persona inside the device) out in the middle of the kitchen and having the product pick up from another room is rather impressive, especially when you just want to fire up some background music or search for a recipe.

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