Amazon Echo and Echo Dot took the UK by storm when they launched last year, racking up awards and praise.
The clever 360-degree omni-directional speaker is powered by virtual assistant, dubbed “Alexa”.
This talkative AI assistant lets Echo owners order dinner, check the weather, turn on the lights, adjust your thermostat, get travel updates on your commute, call a cab, and more, using only your voice. Amazon promotes the smart speaker with the tagline, Just Ask.
Alexa also has access to millions of tracks, albums and radio stations.
Third-Pray developers are building new Skills for the smart home device. And this latest one could be a really lifesaver.
The British Red Cross this week launched a new Skill which enables Echo owners to quickly get access to step-by-step first aid advice.
The new Amazon Echo Skill uses simple, spoken instructions to teach people a wide range of first-aid treatments, including how to deal with a severe bleed, a burn and a seizure.
Once the Skill is installed, which is handled via the companion smartphone app, users can access it by saying “Alexa, open First Aid”, and ask for advice, for example “Alexa, ask First Aid how to help someone having a seizure”.
The Red Cross is the first education provider in the UK to pioneer a first aid app for the device.
Recent research from the charity revealed that up to 59 per cent of “pre-hospital” deaths from injury could potentially have been prevented had more people stepped in with some simple first aid.
First Aid seeks to educate people in first aid as part of their daily lives, making them more confident and better equipped to step in and help in emergency situations, British Red Cross stated.
British Red Cross Head of First Aid Education, Joe Mulligan said: “The British Red Cross’ new skill for Amazon Echo will teach people simple first aid so that they feel well prepared to help someone in an emergency.
“The benefits of accessible education are well documented, and we hope that spoken instructions will make it even easier for people to learn these skills.
“This is a very exciting time for us, and highlights our ambition to embrace new digital technologies to reach and engage more people in first aid education.
“We’ll be developing this product all the time based on user feedback, and we’re looking forward to seeing it grow.”
You can download the British Red Cross First aid Alexa app here or head to Amazon.co.uk and search under Alexa Skills.
Amazon Echo is completely hands-free, thanks to its ability to always listen for one of its wake words – “Alexa”, “Amazon,” “Computer” or “Echo.”
When the smart home device hears one of the wake words, it will illuminate the circle of blue lights at the top of the cylindrical speaker – telling you the speaker is now recording.
The Echo will only record and store the wake word and the voice command that follows.
On its website, Amazon clarifies “When you use an Alexa device, we keep the voice recordings associated with your account to improve the accuracy of the results provided to you and to improve our services.”
However, the US retail company does allow Amazon Echo owners to listen back to the recordings it has kept.
Amazon lets users review any previous spoken commands, provide feedback to Amazon letting them know whether the smart speaker understood the request, and delete any recordings.
If you want to check-out your old recordings, you’ll need to download the Alexa companion app on your Android or iOS smartphone.
Launch the app, then tap on the Settings menu, then History.
Given the sheer amount of voice commands that most Amazon Echo owners accumulate during the lifetime of the device, you’ll probably be confronted with an enormous catalogue of voice commands.
Tap on any of the recordings, which are listed in chronological order, to listen to the audio, review what Alexa thought you asked, and delete the file from Amazon’s servers.
If you want to delete more than one audio file, Amazon does provide a quick way to delete your entire back catalogue of voice commands.
To do this, head to amazon.com/mycd in your web browser.
From the list of devices registered to your Amazon account, select your chosen Alexa device, then tap Manage Voice Recordings, followed by Delete.
Amazon warns users, “if you delete these recordings, it may degrade your experience using the voice features.”
Every Echo device has a physical microphone button that disables its ability to listen.