Amazon's Echo smart speaker has been quite the successful IoT device in recent months thanks to the wide array of functions it has and the compatibility with a handful of different smart home products. All of its power is of course driven by Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant, which is due to get even more powerful and functional now that Amazon has opened up the Alexa Voice Service to developers so they can work with it and integrate Alexa into their apps and products. For those who may not be quite sure they want to buy one of Amazon's Echo speakers, Amazon has just posted up a little DIY tutorial on how you can build your own Alexa-powered device using a Raspberry Pi.
For those who are unfamiliar, the Raspberry Pi is a tiny little PC you can do tons of stuff with. If you have a Raspberry Pi and a little bit of know-how on tinkering with computers, you can follow along with Amazon's instructions and make an Alexa-powered device of your very own which not only should get you acquainted with what Alexa can do first hand, but the setup will ultimately cost a lot less than an Amazon Echo as well, which is enough reason in itself to give it a try if you know what you're doing and have been interested in having the capabilities that the Echo offers to users.
Getting started will require you to pick up the Raspberry Pi 2 as well as a few other things like a microSD card, a micro USB cable, a USB 2.0 mini microphone, an ethernet cable, a USB keyboard and a USB mouse, and an HDMI monitor. Optionally, you can pick up a WiFi wireless adapter if you'd prefer the unit to hook up to the internet that way instead of through ethernet. Once you have everything you can begin the process to build this little machine, and all told everything you actually need should cost you less than the $179.99 that it costs for the Amazon Echo, in fact, you can actually pick up everything for just under $80 not including the shipping, but then again if you're an Amazon Prime member you'll get free 2-day shipping anyway. In the end this little setup costs you $100 less than an Amazon Echo, and although it likely won't do near as much as the Echo smart speaker, it will allow some of the more basic functions.