On The Edge With Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality And The Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo


Imagine having your own butler. To do your bidding whether in the real world or virtual.

Not to make tea and cakes of course. But to call a friend, find an answer, check the weather, and play whatever music you want.

All in a split second at the sound of your voice.

The answer is where the edge meets reality. And there look to be some great uses for it in virtual reality experiences too.

The device were talking about is a technological masterpiece known as The Edge. It comes from none other than Amazon.


I’d never heard of the Edge before March 2016, yet it’s over a year old and the subject of over 33000 reviews on the Amazon site, many of them glowing. Clearly it’s something to take notice of, right?



So What Is It & What Does It Do?


For such an innocuous looking device you’re going to be surprised at the breadth and depth of what it can do.

You want to add something to a shopping list? Ask and it shall be granted

You want a favourite song played? Ask away and listen

Want to know the weather or news? Call out and you’ll get the run-down

Set a timer? Tell it how long

Dim the lights? Watch it get darker

So you can do all this on your smartphone right now.

But this regularly sold out device has some tricks up its sleeve. Just place it in your room and it rapidly becomes part of the family – learning what you want as it goes. It’s your own Google in the house. You can shout at it, and it just does stuff! No writing, no typing, no searching.

It delivers much improved voice recognition capabilities over ant smartphone voice apps. Hands free, from a fair distance away, and even in the midst of significant noise. It’s response is rapid…and it really knows you.

And it learns. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.

There are apps developed to tell you bus schedules, read out recipes, turn on the lights, shut the garage doors, and 101+ others.


How To Use Echo



So what’s all this got to do with virtual reality I hear you ask.

Well, when one great technical innovation arrives you sit up and take notice. When two arrive at pretty much the same time, and both have the power to become part of daily life, it can pay dividends to find the ways in which they might compliment each other.

So let’s take a look at some interesting applications that might spring forth from an Edge – virtual reality coupling.

First off, remember that entering virtual reality environments is designed to work on the brain. And anything that works on a brain level puts you in an altered state of consciousness. This can be superficial or deep, depending on what you’re experiencing.

When you’re in a deepened alternative state, things tend to come to mind without thinking too hard. It’s the subconscious poking through to your conscious self.

So imagine you’re next hiking through the tough terrain of a virtual reality mountain pass, heart thumping as you climb steep outcrops and ascend deep ravines. Your full focus is on the task in hand – keeping yourself alive to get to the other side.

You suddenly remember you’ve run out of milk, which is exactly the type of thought that can spring up in an altered state of mind. No need to break off though, you just make sure your grip is tight and call out to Alexa to stick it on the shopping list.

That’s a practical illustration of course, but what about using The Edge to accentuate VR experiences?

There are a number of ways in which this could be applied. An example might be the introduction of sounds. You’re on that Caribbean beach.

You know? The one that springs to mind every time you think about a vacation. What if you could place yourself there and then supplement it with wave sounds at the command of your voice, or flamboyant calypso music to complete the picture.

Then sink back to let it all wash over you.

I said before:

“When two technological innovations arrive at pretty much the same time, and both have the power to become part of daily life, it can pay dividends to find the ways in which they might compliment each other”.

We have the two innovations – Virtual Reality and The Amazon Edge.

The timing is perfect for both.

We’re sure to see interaction between them, perhaps in ways that haven’t even been thought about yet.

So I’m off to to the Amazon store. I do hope The Edge is not in one of its sold out phases!