Smart devices are already making a big impact in how our homes operate, and it’s only going to grow from here. At the center of it all seems to be the Amazon Alexa. It’s come out ahead as the leader in the voice-controlled assistants and integrates with almost every smart device I’ve come across.
At the beginning I was actually a bit slow to buy-in to the Alexa hype, but now that I’m used it, I would have a hard time going back. It’s just SO convenient. Change thermostat temperature, turn on water sprinklers, dim lights, turn off the TV, and even ask how long my baby daughter slept last night. It integrates so well in to them that it’s all become a seamless part of life, which is exactly what it’s supposed to do.
Now they’re taking it one step further and letting you create your own skills or add skills that other people have already created. There’s a lot to sort through, so I’ve teamed up with Amazon to showcase few of my favorite and show you how to activate them.
Working from home, it’s easy to get caught up in my work and forget other things I need to do. If I’m in the middle of something and have something else that needs to be done right after, I’ll use the Start Nagging Me skill to make sure I don’t forget it. Today for instance, I remembered I had left some meat out on the counter to cook, but had a couple more emails I needed to respond to first. I just said “Alexa, start nagging me to cook dinner” and and told her I needed to do it in 10 minutes. Once it’s set up, it gives light humored comments to get what you need to get done every minute until the times is done.
Lyfetrak is another one I’ve been using to track how often I’m working out. My wife and I are working more hours than ever, so to make sure we don’t completely leave our bodies to waste away, we’ve set the goal of working out at least three times per week. They don’t have to be particularity long work out sessions, just that we’re actually getting some workouts in.
After activating LyfeTrak online here, you just say “Alexa, ask Life Track to set up a new metric.” From there, you tell it what type of metric and if you want it to track the activity by the minutes or simply how many times you do it.
Then you just say, “Alexa, tell LyfeTrak I worked out for 30 minutes” and it’s done. You can ask for updates by saying “Alexa, ask Lyfetrak how I’m doing” or “Alexa, ask Lyfetrak how many times I’ve worked out this week.”
Another skill that’s been particularly useful lately is Budget Bot. If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know that we’ve been doing some MAJOR house renovations. If you own a house or have done any renovations yourself, you know how easy it is to run over budget quickly. I’ve been using Budget Bot as a quick way to keep our renovation costs in check and always accessible. After activating it here, I just say “Alexa, tell Budget Bot that I spent $43.92 on renovations today.” It categorizes renovations into it’s “Housing” category, so to check on it I just say “Alexa, ask Budget Bot how much I’ve spent on housing?”
There are a ton of different skills you can find to match your needs. If you want to check out more, you can visit the Alexa Skills Page or just say “Alexa, Make my life easier.”
Thanks to Amazon for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.