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From the Desk of Steve Ensley

When technology can be dangerous


  • The latest edition to the tech giant's family of devices is powered by Alexa
  • Each device has a camera and microphone for making video calls
  • The camera will probably be facing directly at the user's bed
  • The Echo Spot, which will cost ($129) will be shipped on 24th January

By Press Association and Phoebe Weston For Mailonline

PUBLISHED: 04:02 EST, 16 January 2018 UPDATED: 11:42 EST, 16 January 2018

 

Amazon wants to put a camera and microphone in your bedroom with the UK launch of its latest Echo home device that doubles up as a 'smart alarm' (pictured)

PRIVACY CONCERNS 

The camera on the £119.99 ($129) Echo Spot, which doubles up as a 'smart alarm', will probably be facing directly at the user's bed. 

The device has such sophisticated microphones it can hear people talking from across the room - even if music is playing. 

Amazon devices - which rely on microphones listening out for a key word - have previously activated when they're not wanted meaning this small device could turn into a potential spy. 

Last month a hack by British security researcher Mark Barnes saw 2015 and 2016 versions of the Echo turned into a live microphone.

Fraudsters could then use this live audio feed to collect sensitive information from the device.   

 

 

It is the latest edition to the tech giant's family of devices and is as usual powered by virtual assistant Alexa.   

Although the camera on the Echo Spot is primarily used to facilitate video calling, it could be hacked and used for malicious purposes, writes The Verge.

Last month a hack by British security researcher Mark Barnes saw 2015 and 2016 versions of the Echo turned into a live microphone.

Fraudsters could then use this live audio feed to collect sensitive information from the device.    

The devices is smaller than most of its other smart hubs, and is the first to include a circular screen as the company battles to take control of the home smart speaker market.

Amazon launched its first screen-carrying Echo – the Echo Show – in the UK at the end of last year, with the device able to display video news briefings as well as make video calls and show song lyrics. 

The Echo Spot has similar functionality and has a series of clock faces available hinting at the device's premier use case – as an Alexa powered alarm clock for your bedside table or elsewhere in the home.

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First announced in September and then placed on-sale in the US at the end of 2017, the Spot can also be used to make video calls and as an intercom system with other Echo devices in the home.

It has second generation far-field technology with four microphones and enhanced noise cancellation. This means it can hear users from across the room - even if music is playing.

The company thinks people will find 'lots of places' for their Echo Spot which can hear people from across the room - even if music is playing

 

First announced in September and then placed on-sale in the US at the end of 2017, the Spot can also be used to make video calls and as an intercom system with other Echo devices (pictured) in the home

ECHO SPOT FEATURES

The ($129) Echo spot has second generation far-field technology with four microphones and enhanced noise cancellation so it can hear users from across the room - even if music is playing.

If users have more than one Echo, Alexa responds from the Echo that the user is closest to.

Like Echo Show, users can use the Spot to start a voice or video call or send a message to anyone with an Echo or the Alexa App—simply say, 'Alexa, call dad,' or 'Alexa, send a message to Mary.'

Alexa has a built-in 2W speaker and directly connects to speakers through Bluetooth using a 3.5mm stereo cable.

With the multi-room music feature, users can play music throughout the home.

It works with smart home devices such as cameras, lights, thermostats, as well as brands like Ring, Arlo, Philips Hue, IKEA, Hive, TP-Link, Netatmo, WeMo, Smart Things, and Tado.

Shipping will start on the 24th January.

 

 

If users have more than one Echo, Alexa responds from the Echo that the user is closest to.

Like Echo Show, users can use the Spot to start a voice or video call or send a message to anyone with an Echo or the Alexa App—simply say, 'Alexa, call dad,' or 'Alexa, send a message to Mary.' 

 

 Amazon's Jorrit Van der Meulen said: 'Echo Spot combines the popular small design of Echo Dot, the display of Echo Show, and the features you love about Alexa into a stylish and compact device.

'See the weather, watch video news briefings, glance at your alarm clock, make video calls, and more – we think customers in the UK will find lots of places for Echo Spot in their homes.'

Alexa has a built-in 2W speaker and directly connects to speakers through Bluetooth using a 3.5mm stereo cable.

With the multi-room music feature, users can play music throughout the home. 

'Amazon takes customer privacy seriously and we have taken measures to make Echo Spot secure', an Amazon spokesperson told MailOnline.

'These include hardware control via the mic/camera off button, disallowing third party application installation on the device, rigorous security reviews, and encryption of communication between Echo Spot, the Alexa App and Amazon servers.'

Users can also turn the camera off by saying 'Alexa, camera off', via the device menu, or using the mic/camera off button.

This electronically disconnects the mics and the camera at the same time.

The device works with smart home devices such as cameras, lights and thermostats, as well as brands like Ring, Arlo, Philips Hue, IKEA, Hive, TP-Link, Netatmo, WeMo, Smart Things, and Tado.

Shipping will start on the 24th January.

Last week Amazon unveiled Alexa Onboard technology that lets users access the Alexa voice assistant through their car's infotainment system.

That means drivers or passengers can play music, ask for directions or get other information simply by speaking to the car's audio system.

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It has second generation far-field technology with four microphones and enhanced noise cancellation. This means it can hear users from across the room - even if music is playing

Users can use the Spot to start a voice or video call or send a message to anyone with an Echo or the Alexa App—simply say, 'Alexa, call dad,' or 'Alexa, send a message to Mary.'

Alexa has a built-in 2W speaker and directly connects to speakers through Bluetooth using a 3.5mm stereo cable

Toyota says it will begin integrating Amazon's Alexa voice assistant into some of its vehicles this year, so drivers can tell their cars to play music or set a comfortable temperature at home before arriving.

In choosing Alexa over rival Google Assistant, Toyota Connected CEO Zack Hicks says Amazon is the right partner as Toyota studies what future mobility might look like.

With Alexa, customers can simply ask for directions, control entertainment, get the news, add items to a shopping list, control their smart home while on the road, and more, Toyota says.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5273947/Amazon-s-Echo-Spot-coming-UK-later-month.html#ixzz54eGtPg1l 
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20180119   Category: safety  Status: on
Tags: alexa safety
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