Last night Amazon announced a new product called Amazon Echo – essentially a microphone and speaker that sits in the corner of your living room, and will constantly listen to you and respond to commands.
Think Siri, but always on: You can ask it about the weather, to set reminders, to play music and more. Echo is hooked up to Amazon’s Cloud services, so will always get smarter as all of the processing takes places in Amazon’s data centres.
Amazon has even given the virtual assistant a name – no, not HAL but Alexa. To activate the device you simply have to say “Alexa”.
Whilst it is an interesting device I can’t help but wonder if this is potentially crossing a line into creepy? Whilst it is unlikely the NSA care about your opinions on what you’re watching on telly, the idea that everything you say could conceivably be listened to and processed is a bit weird, right? At least with the likes of Siri and Cortana you have to activate them manually.
The product is arguably reminiscent of when the Xbox One launched, and Microsoft required that the Kinect 2 camera be hooked up 24/7 – conceivably watching everything you do.
What’s interesting is that whilst Echo may not be a radical leap in terms of privacy expectations, it is interesting to see consider how much privacy we now willingly give up – whilst no one wants to live in an Orwellian nightmare, Amazon Echo is another example of how we’re theoretically willing to surrender another chunk of privacy, in exchange for a genuinely useful service – in this case, providing information and music.
What do you think? Is Amazon Echo cool or creepy? Let us know in the comments.