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Alexa, Play My Hopper

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Machine Learning in the Home

You may have heard of Alexa, Amazon’s artificial intelligence app. Amazon markets it as an “intelligent personal assistant”. Built into the Amazon Echo device, it brings machine learning into the home. With it, you could control almost any device or appliance with voice commands. Alexa learns from experience, and will adapt to your preferences. It’s capable of:

  • managing music playback lists
  • updating weather, traffic, and other real-time information
  • setting alarms
  • streaming podcasts
  • playing audio books
  • setting alarms
  • maintaining task lists

and almost anything else you could imagine. Most users activate it with “wake-up words”.

The Hopper Adopts Machine Learning

This morning, Dish Network announced that Alexa can operate its Hopper DVR and Wally receivers. You could activate the Hopper through the Amazon Echo. You can ask the Hopper to find a particular channel, search for shows (even on Hulu or Netflix), or control playback- all without touching anything. You can manage all functions with your voice.

The Hopper is an advanced whole-home HD-DVR. It features sixteen tuners, so you could record fifteen shows while watching another. It also has the Auto-Hop feature, which can skip all the ads in a prime time lineup automatically.

Other Amazon Functions

The machine learning app is not Dish Network’s only connection with Amazon. The Dish Anywhere app now works on Amazon Fire TV devices. To get the whole range of its functions on Amazon Fire TV, including live, recorded, and on demand video, you’ll need the Hopper’s Sling Adapter. This could be useful when you’re visiting a friend and want to watch a channel he doesn’t have.

Dish says that the Amazon Fire TV devices are the only ones other than tablets, phones, or its own boxes that handle Dish Anywhere. However, that’s likely to change soon. Dish has hinted that support for other streaming devices is on the way.

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