So Amazon Echo was launched in December 2015 and since then, 3 million devices have been sold… in the United States. It’s usual for Amazon not to announce their product roadmaps or launch plans, so we have simply no idea when (more than if) it will be launched in other English-speaking countries, or when Alexa will speak Spanish or Tagalog with us… Therefore, if you’re curious about Alexa Voice Services but you’re not based in the US, you’ll have to take some workarounds to play around with the technology.
There are two ways of speaking with Alexa via your Smartphone:
- Lexi. A $4.99 app for iOS.
- Roger Voice Messenger. By the people that previously built Spotify. You can add Alexa to its options. Also you can exchange opinions with Chewbacca. Free for Android and iOS.
- The test tool on Amazon’s developer console: I’ll devote a full post for that, but it’s quite masochistic, unless you prefer JSON to speech.
Build yourself an Echo device with a Raspberry Pi. Here’s how they explain it from Amazon, here’s how they explain it from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. A colleague of mine tells me it’s totally doable. What you’ll need:
- A Raspberry Pi 2 (model B) & typical complements (power cord, SD card, keyboard, mouse, USB Wi-Fi adaptor).
- A USB 2.0 mini microphone.
- A loudspeaker that works with a 3.5 mm jack (the usual one).
- eBay. Not exactly the black market. There’s lots of Amazon Echos for sale out there. Good luck with Customs if you go down this route.