I am undeniably a geek. I got the invitation for Amazon’s Echo and I bought it – it’s my Christmas present from me. It’s like Apple’s Siri but freestanding. Plus, it seems to do a lot more. I can ask it to play a radio station or a song from my library or answer a question. I’ve asked it to tell me the time, talk about Shelties, and describe the weather. The sound from the circular speakers and woofer is great, reminding me of a Bose system.
It hears me throughout the house. Yesterday I was in the kitchen and I asked it how many teaspoons in a pint. Too cool. It needs to do recipes and answer questions like: can I cook chicken livers in the microwave and when is the next Green Packers game. Right now it can’t do that.
This bothers me, though: (from the Amazon Echo website)
Tucked under Echo’s light ring is an array of seven microphones. These sensors use beam-forming technology to hear you from any direction. With enhanced noise cancellation, Echo can hear you ask a question even while it’s playing music. Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud, where we leverage the power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request. Learn more about Echo’s voice recognition.
I have this vision of all these people sitting around a conference table, listening in to my life, and answering my questions. It’s a little freaky to think that Amazon might be monitoring me. They have a phenomenal Web Services division that’s bigger than Amazon – and much more profitable.
Echo has a button on top of its unit to turn off the microphone. I’ve enabled it, so now it doesn’t “listen” to me, but I can still access it through the remote.
What do you think? Would you use the Echo?