Alexa Can Now Recognize Your Toddler’s Voice

(Photo by Joby Sessions/T3 Magazine via Getty Images)

Anyone with a toddler has been dying for this

Effective voice-activated technology is one of the most exciting bits of technological advancement, and that’s in an era that’s full of them. Amazon’s Echo speaker is one of the primary examples of how to incorporate voice-activation into your life in order to make things easier and more convenient for you.

Unless you have kids. Then it’s a nightmare. Until now! Maybe?

The Echo speaker was the first voice-activated home speaker system to hit the market, but it’s long past being the only one. Echo’s primary competitor, Google Home’s speaker, has a slick look, slick commercials, and one more slick feature: voice recognition.

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But according to Tech Crunch, Alexa is finally launching that feature. And Prime parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief.

You can now create voice profiles on Alexa, via a new feature you can set up through the app. Once installed, your Echo can recognize your voice and access specific, personalized information, such as your messages, without the person needing to specify who they are. Among the capabilities the voice profile can access are personalized music playlists, personalized shopping, and Alexa-to-Alexa calls.

The new voice profile capability started rolling out in mid-October, and for instructions on how to set it up, you can head over to Amazon.com.

For anyone with young kids, it can’t come soon enough. Trying to use a voice-activated speaker with a toddler around is like trying to defuse a bomb with… a toddler around. Because doing just about anything with a toddler around is a goddamn nightmare, let’s be honest.

Voice activation and children don’t mix. Have you ever tried to make a Bluetooth phone call with your kids in the backseat of the car? I tried once, and now that that memory has resurfaced, I need a few minutes to calm myself down.

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Okay, I’m back.

Children love any excuse to talk, to be loud, and to interrupt. Having a voice-activated speaker like Alexa in the house creates the perfect storm. The last time we had friends over my house, my 6-year-old kept interrupting my perfectly curated playlist (I live in Brooklyn) by forcing the Echo to play the poopy song. (Yes, it exists. No, don’t listen to it.)

The ability for the speaker to recognize who is speaking is huge, but what Amazon really needs to do is create a way to tell the Echo to ignore certain voices. That way, after she ignores my son’s thirty or forty straight nonsensical questions – “Who would win a fight between the moon and the sun?” “Are Yoda and Groot related?” “How smart is poop?” “How much does my poop weight?” “Does poop poop?” – he’ll give up and go bother someone else.

Probably Siri. Shit. Where’s my phone?!

Father and Son Escape Burning Truck in the Nick of Time

(News Channel Nebraska)

19-year old Minnesota man Kobe Sammons drove 500 miles to visit his family in Nebraska. When he arrived he told to his father, Jeremy, that his ride just wasn’t running right. So his dad hopped in the truck and the two went for a drive in hopes of discovering what the problem was.

A short while later they pulled over when Jeremy noticed smoke had entered the cabin of the truck. The smoke quickly turned to heat and it became apparent the engine compartment was on fire.

That’s when both men attempted to open their doors but they would not unlock.

The father wondered if this would be their final moments together.

“I told him he would have to break the glass or kick the door open. I couldn’t help him.” the elder Sammons told News Channel Nebraska.

But eventually Kobe was able to kick the door open.

“It was in those moments. Just when it had to open, the door opened.” Kobe’s dad said.

By the time firefighters arrived the truck was completely engulfed in flames. Authorities on the scene considered that the fire may have caused the doors’ unlocking mechanism to malfunction.

The truck can easily be replaced, the important thing is that this father and son duo escaped unharmed.

75-Year-Old Volunteer Literally Takes Catnaps at Animal Shelter

(Facebook/Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary Inc.)

If you’re a cat lover you’ll probably agree that 75-year-old Wisconsinite Terry Lauerman is living the dream. He spends most days volunteering at his local animal shelter snoozing with cats.

Lauerman begins his day at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary where he brushes any cat that needs it, then ends up catching a few z’s with his feline friends. The cats and staff at the shelter love the service Lauerman provides and so do thousands of others because of a viral Facebook post about him.

Elizabeth Feldhausen, the founder of Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, told The Huffington Post that Lauerman never signed up to be a volunteer but just showed up one day, armed with a cat brush and dream to help some kitties.

“He just walked in and started brushing,” Feldhausen said. “So eventually we told him he was an official volunteer and had him fill out our volunteer form.”

(Facebook/Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary Inc.)

Safe Haven is a cage-free, no-kill shelter aimed at rehabilitating cats with special needs who would likely be euthanized elsewhere. Feldhausen says Lauerman usually comes in for about three hours every day—he’ll start by brushing a cat but usually ends up dozing off.

“He sleeps for about an hour, then he’ll wake up and switch cats,”

The cats aren’t the only ones benefitting from his visits, though. “He said, [the brushing is] as great of an experience for him, as it is for them,” said Feldhausen.

(Facebook/Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary Inc.)

The post about Lauerman has received tons of positive attention and according to Feldhausen, they’ve received about $20,000 in donations since the post went viral.

While Lauerman is happy to have brought so much attention to Safe Haven, he wants people to know that there are plenty of other volunteers that put in hours of hard work to make sure the cats are loved and cared for.

Unlike them, however, Lauerman can do it in his sleep.

Father Figures: So Be It

“My money is tight living here in Silicon Valley.

My daughters are both really smart and take advanced classes, which takes a shit load of money for tests, materials and such. I too play the ‘money is tight’ card around holidays and birthdays, but I work my ass off and find side jobs. As many as I can to make sure they have the best day possible on those special occasions.

If that means not buying myself anything for the rest of my life, so be it.

They always come first, and I believe they will appreciate the struggles later on in life, and they’ll be better off for it.”

– Mauro Hernandez

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Dad’s Panoramic Photo of Daughter Goes Horribly Wrong and Viral

(Twitter/sc_x_cs)

With new phones constantly boasting advancements in camera technology, it’s no wonder some people have trouble keeping up—dads in particular.

Just ask 21-year-old Twitter user Simran. She recently came to terms with the fact that her father is a bit more technologically-challenged than she realized.

Here’s how Simran appears when she’s directing the photo shoot:

While on vacation her dad attempted to snap a unique picture of her. He insisted on trying out his iPhone X’s panoramic photo mode. As you probably expect, the photo didn’t turn out quite as planned.

“My dad told me to stand by the apples because he said he discovered a new way to take pano pics vertically,” Simran told Mashable. “I agreed to it and this was the result.”

“When he saw them he said ‘they look great’ and then I saw them and completely lost it. I mean, are you kidding me? I look like an Alien,” she said.

A number of people chimed in and made fun comparisons to some pretty unflattering images.

Clearly, Simran has been a good sport and we commend her dad for a bold attempt at harnessing advanced photo technology. But perhaps he should stick with the old fashioned point-and-shoot method from now on?