Amazon's Echo is set to be in stock on July 18th, but it already has over 20,000 reviews of customers giddy with the device's capabilities. The Echo is a black cylinder that holds a woofer, tweeter, reflex port, and the necessary hardware to make it integral to a household. What does household integration mean? It's always "on," listening to voice commands that can respond to everything from requests for traffic reports to taking additions to a shopping list. It will read an audiobook or play music from your Pandora library or tell you what the weather's like.
The Echo's capabilities are great, but it's not the device's features that make it the most intriguing: it's the willingness with which customers have adopted voice command technology. There was a learning curve for many users when Siri was first introduced--a learning curve of mobile phone users furious with the feature's limited functionality and misheard words. The frustration ended with many users electing not to use the voice recognition altogether. The excitement over the Echo proves that customers are willing to alter the way they interface with their electronics, as long as the interaction works properly and consistently.
That's especially important in the world of wearables, on which many companies are staking massive claims. The Apple Watch, for instance, relies heavily on voice commands, and once customers become comfortable with a different method of interfacing with their electronics, it shouldn't be long before everything from televisions to microwaves utilizes the same technology and is commercially successful. That means that voice recognition is here to stay and engineers would do well to keep that in mind: the days of swiping may be numbered.