Elizabeth Saldebar has been relying on her Amazon Echo ever since she got one as a Christmas gift last year. “Well, you know, I actually never really thought about it,” Saldebar responded. Google and Amazon, the leading companies that make these devices, say they only record your voice when you activate them with so-called “wake words.” Those recordings are then transmitted back to Amazon and Google servers, where the questions are analyzed and answered. While they might work that way for now, some are worried that could change in the near future.
“They’re there to track you, to surveil you and to sell you,” Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court said.
His advocacy group studied dozens of patent applications for possible future advances in Google and Amazon’s smart home technology. Are Google Home and Amazon Echo listening more than you realize?
The concern is more real than fiction and if true, could signal the end of voice enabled speakers if consumer backlash is widespread.
One Amazon patent shows the company could instruct the Echo device to listen for designated trigger words, like a discussion of vacation destinations. It could then transcribe that conversation and use it to try to sell the device’s user a related product.
thumbnail courtesy of cbsnews.com
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