Alexa has built-in microphones that listen to all conversations when the device is turned on. It searches for the wake word and when it is heard, records the user's voice. Then, using a small 32-bit processer, sends the recorded voice to Amazon using a Wifi. The recording gets converted into commands by Alexa Voice Services (AVS), which is run by Amazon. AVS sends back an audio file of Alexa responding to the recording of user's voice and command. The audio files is then played using the speakers embedded in the device.
"I really wanted an Alexa and asked my roommates to get one for me for my birthday. I play music out loud all the time in our room, but I wanted something more than a speaker. I'm not a big fan of making playlists, so it took me some time to go on Pandora or Spotify and find a specific track that I wanted to listen to. With Alexa, I just ask the specific track I want to listen to and she plays it out loud for me. It's really a fun experience, and almost feels like it's a real person who listens to my requests. It also feels empowering to be able to use this type of technology and have access to it every day. I have also gotten used to setting alarms on Alexa. I used to set alarms on my phone, but I had to plug the phone into an outlet that was not super close to my bed. So when the alarm went off, I had to physically get out of bed to go and turn it off, which was annoying. But with Alexa, I just ask her to turn off the alarm and I don't have to get up. It's really convenient." - Chantal A.
"I really like Alexa, especially since we play music in our room a lot and it's much more fun asking a smart device to play a specific song we want. Especially when you're away from your phone or computer to control the music, Alexa makes everything really convenient. It's true that the time we save with Alexa is not significant. Like it doesn't take me a long time to physically change the music, but she makes it more fun. I also use it a lot to find out what the weather is like. Like when I'm changing in the morning and I'm in a rush and don't have time to check the weather, I just ask Alexa to figure out how the weather is and then pick my outfit based on that. One thing I don't like about it though is the volume range. We have an Echo Dot and the sound is generally not too loud. So we had to buy another external speaker and connect that to Alexa with Bluetooth. I guess it's not too annoying, but after buying Alexa, I would have preferred not to spend more money on accessories like that. - Alex Z.