From Hal 9000 to the Star Ship Enterprise's computer in Star Trek, futuristic science fiction shows and movies always seem to have a helpful always-on computer that responds to voice commands. Like flying cars, however, the listening computer is one of the "futuristic" things that's easier to do on film than it is in real life. This hilarious moment from "Star Trek IV" when the Enterprise crew travels back to the 1980s sums it up nicely.
Apple got us a bit closer with the Siri personal assistant built into iPhones and iPads, and Google and Microsoft are advancing the idea as well with Google Now and Cortana, respectively.
Still, those need you to be near your phone, tablet or computer to work, and in most cases you have to press a button first. Not quite as easy as just speaking up.
Well, Amazon has just launched a new product that might be a game changer. It's called Amazon Echo, and it takes a shape you might not expect.