Tag Archives: Echo

Amazon And Disney Announce “Hey Disney!” Launch For Echo Devices

Amazon and Disney are excited to share that Hey Disney! – a new voice assistant built on Alexa technology and referred as the ‘Disney Magical Companion’ – is officially available for customers to purchase in the U.S. as an annual, auto-renewing subscription in the Alexa Skills Store for use on their supported Echo devices at home. Additionally, Hey Disney! is included as a part of subscription to Amazon Kids+.

Hey Disney! marks the first time an Alexa Custom Assistant (ACA) is available on supported Echo devices for customers at-home and uniquely brings together an array of content featuring 20+ characters across Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and other beloved franchises. ACA is a comprehensive solution that made it possible for Disney to create an assistant with a custom voice (the Disney Magical Companion) and wake word (“Hey Disney!”).

The Disney Magical Companion introduces a new way to bring Disney’s expansive storytelling to life for fans of all ages at home, providing magical responses to everyday things like weather, timers, and alarms, as well as entertainment like Disney trivia, storytelling, interactive adventures with characters, and more.

To purchase and set-up Hey Disney!, customers can simply say “Alexa, introduce me to Hey Disney.” Once the purchase is made and the experience is enabled, they can say “Hey Disney, start the magic” for an introduction on how the Disney Magical Companion works alongside Alexa.

“Hey Disney! represents the art of what’s possible when two major companies marry their creative and technical expertise,” said Mark Yoshitake, GM and Director of Alexa Skills. “This is a whole new way to bring Disney storytelling to life for fans of all ages and we are thrilled to offer a magical, new experience for customers to enjoy on their Echo devices.”

TechCrunch reported that Hey Disney! Marks the first time that an Alexa Custom Assistant (ACA) has launched on Echo devices inside customers’ homes. ACA allows companies to customize Alexa’s technology so its specific to their brand and supports their in-house tech.

According to TechCrunch, the custom assistant has its own voice and personality, which is named the “Disney Magical Companion.” It features over 20 characters across Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars franchises, including: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Olaf, Moana, Dory, Mater, Chewbacca, R2-D2, Fozzie Bear and more.

Users can ask Hey Disney! Simple commands like setting an alarm or timer, there are also thousands of custom interactions, TechCrunch reported, from jokes and greetings to trivia games and soundscapes, among other activities.

Plus, users can engage in “Play-Along Adventures” or interactive audio and visual experiences. The companies wrote in the announcement that the adventure feature allows users to go on “fun-filled journeys like going fishing with Goofy.” There will also be “Easter Eggs” built into the experience which will “surprise and delight customers,” Aaron Rubenson, VP of Amazon Alexa, told TechCrunch.

In my opinion, “Hey Disney!” sounds like fun, especially for children and adults who are Disney fans. The Disney Magical Companion is a new voice assistant built on Alexa technology, and is available in the U.S. for most voice-activated Echo devices. Those who want to purchase “Hey Disney!” can do so on Amazon. The subscription costs $5.99/year.

Amazon Echo Coming To UK on 16 September 2016? No…

echoIs the Amazon Echo coming to the UK on 16 September 2016? Nothing official from Amazon but a Bing search throws up the following link to a pre-order page on Amazon.co.uk which currently doesn’t seem to be live.

Update: Nah…..looks like Bing actually picked up on the release date of a CD called Echoes by the Young Guns, not Amazon Echo. Sorry, that’s entirely my fault as I was so looking forward to getting Alexa.


My life so far with Amazon Echo

amazon logoA couple of months ago I received an Amazon Echo. It’s a unique device in many ways. Most interesting likely is the fact that it talks back to you — declines your requests in some cases. A disembodied voice coming from a strange device is odd enough on its own, but it gets much more complicated than that, as we aren’t factoring in what it can do.

So here’s what I use it for — I play music while I work, it’s a great speaker and Pandora works quite well with it. If you use iHeartRadio then you can set that up as well. Or you can just request a song, providing it’s available in Prime Music.

I’m also using it daily for cooking, Bad habits of leaving things on the stove or in the oven too long can be remedied by saying something along the lines of “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes”.

You can also ask it for the weather or a traffic report, among many other things. It’s an endless source of fascination for guests,

There is a darker side — quite literally, actually. It has nothing to do with Alexa (yes, that’s its name. They’re all named that). No this dark side comes from my experiment and is my own doing.

The Echo is compatible with a home automation hub, which in turn is compatible with GE Link light bulbs. The Amazon device is great, the bulbs are fine. The weak link lies in the middle. Most of the time when I ask it “Alexa, turn on/off living room lights” everything goes smoothly. Other times I get a reply along the lines of “That command doesn’t work with that device”. This means resetting the hub, no fun in the dark.

Do I recommend the Amazon Echo? Yes. Do I recommend the house of cards that is my lighting setup? No. Those cards can, and do, collapse. The home automation features will get better, but for now the setup is a major pain and not for the average user. However, the hub is working to improve all the time and I still love the product, I just wish I didn’t reset quite as often as I do.