Slack + Alexa
Alexa is my favorite part of the Fire TV stick. I was previously using a Roku device, but I’ll never go back because I simply love the added feature of Alexa. Alexa allows users control their lights, music, and read news, as well as, place orders from the Amazon store and show you your daily schedule. Alexa is a great way to automate tasks, but it hinges on the ability to use your voice to receive commands.
While it is actually pretty good at hearing you over light-to-medium background noise, sometimes background noise is unexpected or too loud (construction, a neighbor’s party, your boss’ Metallica addiction), or you are simply not in a place where shouting out to Alexa is practical. Slack is serving up a way to still communicate with Alexa, without using your voice, by using text-to-talk.
Talk to the bot
Slack’s new option is called SilentEcho. It is a bot (currently in beta) which uses text-to-talk technology to take the commands you type and turn them into speech Alexa can recognize.
The bot was developed by Bespoken and uses Amazon’s API to send a voice message to Alexa then you type out what you need, no matter what’s going on in the background.
Great for non-programmers too
This bot was originally intended to offer developers a way to interact with Alexa while they were programming with the API, but it looks like it could wind up being just as useful to non-programmers as well.
Keep in mind, there are a few limitations with the SilentEcho.
The bot cannot do anything that requires being linked to your payment account (no reordering), but it can still play music, complete home automation, or give you weather updates; which let’s face it are likely the things you do most frequently when you’re away from home and away from your Echo and Alexa devices.
What about the app?
Some users will be quick to point out that you can sent commands through the app, but oftentimes work, school, and other public places restrict the use of cellphones, whereas your access to Slack is less likely to be restricted.
I’m not encouraging being sneaky.
However, I am a forgetful person and I understand there are times you need to turn off a light or lock a door so you’re not worrying about it through your business meeting or class and SilentEcho is a good option in these situations.
A solid option
If you already have a Slack account, you’ll need to be an admin to enable the bot and there are rumors that Slack will roll out a Twitter version of the bot: you tweet to the bot and it “tells” Alexa what you need.
You may not use these option as frequently as you use the app or your remotes, but they could prove to be quite handy in a pinch.