Amazon has quietly added a brand new wake word to its voice-activated smart devices, the Echo and Echo Dot, that should come as a delightful surprise for Star Trek fans. The company has added "computer" to its list of wake words for Echo devices - a clear reference to the voice-activated computer onboard the Starship Enterprise.
Users can also wake up their Amazon Echo devices using the activation words, "Alexa", "Amazon" or "Echo". Reddit users have noted that the update has been gradually rolled out for a little over a week now.
Amazon has not formally announced the welcome change, which is mentioned on its updated support page, or confirmed the inspiration behind the new wake word.
To change the wake word on your Echo or Echo Dot, simply open the Alexa app and select "Settings" from the sidebar menu on the left. Select the device that you want to adjust and scroll down to select "Wake Word". Pick "Computer" from the drop-down menu and tap save.
The light ring on the device will briefly flash orange once the wake word is changed, the company notes.
Although Amazon has not officially linked the new update to the beloved Star Trek franchise, company executives have previously cited the Enterprise's powerful computer as the inspiration behind Alexa.
"Our vision was, in the long term, it would become the Star Trek computer," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said at the Transformers conference hosted by the Washington Post in May last year. "You could ask it anything, and ask it to do things for you - ask it to find things for you - and it would be easy to converse with, in a very natural way."
Bezos, who has been a longtime Trek fan, appeared in the Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond as well.
"When I was in fourth grade, me and my friends Dean and Kyle, who lived next door a couple of houses down, in Houston, Texas, would play Star Trek almost every day," Bezos said. "And we'd fight over who'd get to be Captain Kirk or Spock, and somebody used to play the computer, too... Good days."
David Limp, senior vice president of devices at Amazon, told The Guardian in September 2016 that Amazon began the Alexa project five years ago with the goal of building "a computer in the cloud that we controlled with our voice".
"It started with Star Trek, where you could be anywhere on the Enterprise and talk to the computer to get an accurate and fast answer," Limp said. "Voice is the most natural of interfaces, the one we use from birth. It's simple for humans, but it's a very hard challenge for computers. When it's done right, it's delightful for customers."
At Fortune's Brainstorm conference in July last year, Limp said it will take them "years and years" to create a smart, voice-controlled computer in the cloud that can do exactly what the all-knowing computer on the Enterprise can do, "but that's the goal".
Besides switching up Alexa's wake word, Star Trek fans can also try saying, "Alexa (or Computer), beam me up" to hear the device say, "Transporters engaged. Welcome aboard." Users that command the device: "Alexa. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot," will have Alexa respond with one of multiple responses including, "Unable to comply. Replicators are offline."
If you say, "Alexa, set phasers to kill," the assistant will reply, "That's a feature for a later version."