If you’ve never considered using Amazon Alexa on Echo or any one of the 20,000 Alexa-compatible devices available on the market today, then here are three reasons you might want to change your mind.
First of all, what is an Alexa Skill?
Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, isn’t a completely intelligent being. She primarily depends on programmable “Skills” to do what she does, and these skills are invoked by specific voice commands. There are currently over 50,000 Alexa Skills available today, and that number is growing by an amazing 10,000 skills every four months. Essentially, a skill is a voice-triggered task that Alexa will do for you. For example, “Alexa, give me the top headlines” is a skill that will trigger a search for top news from that day.
Apart from basic and generic skills that Amazon developers themselves put into play when Alexa was first ‘heard’ on the Amazon Echo, there are now skills from over 3,500 different brands that let you interact with these companies and order their products just using your voice. Uber and Dominoes, for example, have been around for a while, but a whole crop of Alexa Skills is now emerging that focuses on emergency situations. Not the life-and-death kind, but the kind that fixes annoying problems. Here are three examples of that:
Re-order Your Contact Lenses from DiscountContacts.com
This skill helps you re-order contact lenses from DiscountContacts.com using a voice command. In this case, you simply install the skill on your Alexa app on your iOS or Android device, and then invoke the skill by saying “Alexa, reorder my contacts with Discount Contacts.” That’s all there is to it. Your order is immediately placed, and you don’t have to worry about running out of contacts.
The company behind this skill says that more than 1 out of 4 people have their Alexa devices either in their bedroom or bathroom, and this is where people typically put on their contacts before they go out. That makes it a perfect skill for those who order contacts on a regular basis. Besides, every voice order gets a special 10% discount.
Ask Alexa for Help while Administering First-Aid
When there’s a non-life-threatening medical emergency at home but you don’t want to call a doctor or dial 911, Alexa can offer first-aid assistance from the Mayo Clinic and other reputed resources. For Mayo Clinic’s Alexa Skill, install and enable it on your Alexa app. Then, when there’s an emergency, invoke the skill with “Alexa, open Mayo First Aid.”
Once the skill is invoked, you can ask for any of the following:
• “How do I treat my baby’s fever?”
• “Tell me about spider bites”
• “Help for a burn”
• “How to treat a cut”
• “Instructions for CPR”
Free Resource: Printable cheatsheet of the Top 100 Alexa Skills
Allergy Guide for Store-bought Food
What if you’re in a situation where you’ve ordered or bought food from outside and you don’t really know if it has something you may be allergic to? The Ingredients Guru skill can tell you what various foods contain so you can avoid the risk of an allergic reaction.
The skill is designed to list out a particular food’s ingredients, so you can either tell Alexa the product’s name or read out the UPC code, and she will tell you exactly what the food contains.
To install and enable this skill, click here. To invoke the skill, just say, “Alexa open Ingredients Guru” and then ask Alexa for ingredients of any food that you’re considering eating. It’s also great for when you have guests because you can use Alexa to assure them that something store-bought is safe for them to eat.
All of these Alexa Skills can help you in specific non-life-threatening situations where it’s really important to take immediate action. Forgetting to order your contact lenses and then struggling for a day without them isn’t the most desirable situation to be in; neither is not knowing CPR when someone needs it or accidentally feeding someone a food they’re allergic to.
There are hundreds of such Alexa Skills that can help you literally talk your way out of a jam. All you need to do is spend a little bit of time installing whatever you think you might need in the future, and then enabling these skills so they’re ready to use on any of your Alexa-compatible devices.