Be quiet, I think Mom's new "smart" washing machine is listening to us
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Are my machines spying on me?
It is a good question. Machines around our houses now can listen and answer. They are like computers. They can save what we said and play it back later.
The Amazon Echo listens to voices and follows directions. Users say "Alexa" to make it start.
Voice Services Used In Home Products
Voice machines such as the Echo keep doing more. At a show in Las Vegas, companies are showing new ways to use voice services. They run refrigerators and other tools.
What is being stored or shared by these machines?
To work, the Echo is always listening. Once it hears a certain word, such as "Alexa," it shares what it hears with Amazon's computers. Those talks are saved, or recorded.
Echo Is Listening To Everything
The Echo "has to listen to everything," said Ryan O'Leary. That could be a problem, he said. He works for a company that protects people and computers. The Echo does not save talks all the time. It is supposed to wait until it hears the right word to start saving. Still, it could work the wrong way, O'Leary said.
People usually want privacy. They do not want to be watched or have strangers know about them. Some people are worried that voice tools will take away some privacy.
Gadget Is The Focus Of Case In Arkansas
In Arkansas, police have tried to get an Amazon Echo from someone's house. They want to listen to it. They want to hear the talks to prove how a man died. They say he was killed.
The man was found dead at a friend's home. Police asked for the recordings to find out more. The friend is charged with killing him.
Amazon does not want to share the recordings.
Some worry that sharing them would hurt people's privacy.
Still, companies keep asking people to buy their tools.
"Talk" To Oven To Set Temperature
Whirlpool is adding voice power to a washing machine and a refrigerator. Someone can set the oven by talking.
GE Lighting has a table light using Alexa.
For now, voice power is not a main part. It is there for those who want to use it. It is not needed for the machine to work.
A new refrigerator lets people speak to add things to shopping lists. They also can order food with it.
It appears companies think that people will get over their worries. Many new voice tools are coming.