Virtual Assistants Create Digital Echo Using Echo Echo Device

This interactive media installation utilizes several Amazon Echo Dots, an ESP8266, and a series of servos to generate digital sound echoes.

An engaging, interactive project from German-based designer Peter Buczkowski uses several Amazon Echo Dots to create a digital echo. According to Buczkowski, the platform is triggered via human interaction by touching a metal post at one end of the device, which sets off a chain of repeated sounds generated by each Dot as it listens to its predecessor.

“In the course of this digital echo, the original input becomes more and more alienated. Similar to the game Telephone (German: Stille Post), the information we receive at the end very often has nothing to do with the original message,” Buczkowski states in his project blog. “The work is a playful approach and commentary on one of the larger issues of our current digital lives. What is particularly exciting for me is that the information that moves through the echo in the case of Amazon often ultimately ends up in a product or advertisement. Whether the information comes from a human being or a machine has fed it in is irrelevant.”

Buczkowski designed the Echo Echo device using a trio of Echo Dots, each outfitted with a servo and prong, and wired into an ESP8266 MCU that controls the show. The entire setup sits in an aluminum base that provides a great aesthetic to the overall build. As mentioned earlier, each Echo Dot listens for its predecessor, then responds with a close reproduction of the previous sound when the platform is triggered by touch input. As a note of interest, every Echo Dot has a separate account, as Amazon’s Alexa will not respond if other devices on the network belong to the same account.

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