Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Amazon is listening to your radio

As the IOT (internet of things) expands it's corporate mission to ruin everything, we expected certain changes: needless expense, personal discomfort, technical difficulties and perhaps some comedy. But comedy came early. It's true, but it's not on purpose really.

Amazon has this "Smart House" product called the "Echo". If you're not familiar with the smart home product genre, imagine that your house cost more to run every month, and was more crippled in a blackout than it is now.  Imagine that instead of adjusting the thermostat now with one finger you could waste also electricity, and spend months trying to make your thermostat "smart" with computer integration that never quite works. Echo is one of those products.

The Echo is voice activated. (Stop me if you can see where this is going.) The Echo can't tell the difference between a voice on the radio, on the Television, you or your children. So any voice on any medium can potentially adjust not just your thermostat, but your lights, coffee machine, or even your new media. Rachel Martin,on KWBU reported [LINK] that the Echo had managed to interact with the devices in the homes of several listeners:
“Roy Hagar wrote in to say our story prompted his Alexa to reset his thermostat to 70 degrees. It was difficult for Jeff Finan to hear the story because his radio was right next to his Echo speaker, and when Alex heard her name, she started playing an NPR News summary. Marc-Paul Lee said his unit started going crazy too.”
There are numerous reports on the Echo on forms about the Echo having quotidian conversations with the radio or television. This usually begins as the universal assistant "Alexa" says "I don't  understand." The device can turn itself on with a "wake word" even if that word is in radio dialogue. If that wake word is used on the radio... that's when the fun starts. The default word is "Echo" of course. After that the use of common command words or temperature settings can rearrange everything.