Getting Amazon’s Alexa To The Moon Was No Easy Feat

Getting Amazon’s Alexa To The Moon Was No Easy Feat


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The version of Alexa currently hurtling towards the moon is a bit different from the one that’s responsible for turning your bedroom lights on and reeling off your Spotify playlist, though some features do overlap. For a start, Orion doesn’t have internet access, so all of Space Alexa’s features have to be built in. The one on your bedside table is reliant on the cloud, as you’ll see if you disconnect it from your WiFi and ask it to do anything at all. NASA does have ways of communicating with its spacecraft, including Orion, and this could be used to link the space-bound version of Alexa with Amazon’s servers — but communications would take so long that features like Alexa would be all but useless.

It’s also not in a form you would recognize. You can’t just plug an Echo Dot in and stick it to Orion’s dashboard. Instead, it’s a part of “Callisto,” a briefcase-sized unit that has been developed by Amazon, Lockheed Martin, and Cisco. During Artemis I, Callisto will be used to test out video and voice assistant technology which could prove useful in future missions. Unlike standard Amazon devices, Callisto is designed to endure the unique stresses space travel inflicts on people and objects, including radiation levels that would cause issues for an average echo dot. Then there are other factors to consider, like how cabin acoustics will affect voice commands, and the specific vibrations the spacecraft will have to endure on its journey (via Fast Company).

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November 21, 2022 at 09:04AM

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