Items tagged with echo

A new study published by Adobe Analytics that looks at the market for voice devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The study surveyed 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and looked at how people use the devices they own and what they use them for. According to the study, the most common use for voice assistant devices is music playback with 70% of owners using their device for that task. Weather forecasts came in a close second with 64% of owners using their device for figuring out what the weather will be like for the day. Asking fun questions was a common use for 53% of people along with conducting... Read more...
If you are wondering why companies like Amazon and Google put so much time and energy into smart speakers, just look at the numbers. Sales of voice-activated speakers will add an incremental $1.6 billion to the US technology industry through 2019, in part because they tap into the growing smart home market, according to data by The NPD Group. “While many new households will explore the smart home experience in the next two years, propelled by the growing ownership of voice-activated speakers, the biggest and best opportunity for retail may remain in encouraging the installed smart home base... Read more...
Smart speakers are growing in popularity, but in addition to providing a level of convenience to home consumers, they can potentially act as another point of entry for hackers and cyber criminals. To demonstrate this, researchers Wu Huiyu and Qian Wenxiang demonstrated at DefCon 2018 a technique for hacking Amazon's second-generation Echo speaker that allows an attacker to spy on the speaker's owner. The hackers spent month developing the technique. On the bright side, they have only managed to intercept the microphone rather than take complete control of the speaker, the latter of which could... Read more...
I had an aunt who used to have her living room lights plugged into a timer, so they turn on and serve as a deterrent to potential burglars. That is how it was done 'back in the day'. What about today? There are fancier methods, and one of them involves Amazon's Echo smart speaker with Alexa. There is a new skill available that could keep would-be thieves away. The skill is called Away Mode and it works by playing lengthy audio clips that sound like people are having a conversation inside. It was created by Hippo Insurance, an insurance outfit located in San Francisco, California. At present, Away... Read more...
Amazon's Echo family has expanded over years with the addition of the Echo Dot, Echo Spot, and Echo Show (among others). Last year, Amazon unveiled a second-generation Echo and it appears that this year the company is looking to launch a third-generation Echo Dot.  The first- and second-generation devices were codenamed "pancake" and "biscuit" respectively, and the new third-generation device is rumored to have been developed under the codename "donut". Rather than the flat top of the current Echo Dot, it appears that its newer counterpart has a more rounded appearance. Second-generation Amazon... Read more...
The world of digital assistants is a little bit crowded and immensely competitive. Since its introduction, Amazon has looked at ways of setting Alexa apart from the competition, and it just found another one—equalizer controls. In a blog post, Amazon announced it has added EQ and sound mode controls for smart home entertainment devices using Alexa. If you own an Echo speaker, you can shout, "Alexa, crank up the bass" or "Alexa, turn up treble" and the digital assistant will do exactly that. The new feature is available to customers in the US across the Echo family of devices, and on select... Read more...
Amazon's Alexa AI assistant is a neat device that can perform all sorts of tasks, from answering questions to controlling your smart home and controlling video playback, among many other useful talents. Alexa has also been known to be downright creepy on occasion. It wasn't too long ago that Alexa was laughing maniacally and freaking out users. Alexa has also recorded private conversations and sent them out to at least one owner's contacts. Amazon did, however, give a convoluted explanation of how that happened and vowed to change things so that situation wouldn’t arise again. However,... Read more...
Amazon and the Alexa voice assistant that powers the device has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past week following a disturbing story that made the news. A woman's private conversation was recorded by her Amazon Echo and was forwarded (unbeknownst to her) to a person on her contact list. Amazon profusely apologized for the invasion of privacy, and provided the following explanation: Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like "Alexa." Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a "send message" request. At which point, Alexa said out loud "To whom?"... Read more...
Amazon Echo owners have enjoyed the ability to place calls and send messages with their smart speakers for nearly a year. However, some additional members of Amazon's Alexa-enabled product family are also gaining the ability to communicate with friends, relatives, and colleagues using voice controls. This new tablet functionality is best integrated with Amazon's Fire HD 10, which allows truly hands-free access to make free voice (and video) calls, along with the ability to send messages. Placing a call is a simple as calling out for Alexa and speaking a contact name. If you have a Fire 7, Fire... Read more...
Amazon is working hard on teaching its Alexa Voice AI some new tricks. Recently Alexa gained the ability to play music that you have heard previously even if you don’t know the track name. Amazon has now rolled something much more useful into its digital assistant with a new "Follow-up Mode." With this new mode, Alexa continues to listen for five seconds after it responds to your command, at which point you can follow-up for more natural dialog with the AI assistant. In function, this means you can say "Alexa, dim the lights" and then within five seconds you can issue another command... Read more...
Yesterday we talked about a problem that was plaguing some devices powered by Amazon Alexa that would cause them to laugh suddenly and maniacally. Amazon promised at the time that it was working on a fix and it didn’t waste any time fixing the bizarre fits of laughter Alexa was experiencing. The reason that Alexa is laughing is more than a little creepy. Amazon says that in rare circumstances Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase "Alexa, laugh" even when the phrase wasn't said. Creepy much? To eliminate false responses (and obnoxious laughing keeping you up at night) Amazon has changed the... Read more...
We sense a great disturbance in the [Alexa] force. Unfortunately for Amazon, Alexa voice services are down for a growing number of Echo users across the United States. Quite comically, Amazon's Super Bowl commercial revolved around the premise that Alexa had lost its voice, forcing stand-ins like Gordon Ramsey and Sir Anthony Hopkins to take over her duties. In this case, however, simply querying Alexa results in Echo devices displaying a red LED light ring, after which she responds, "Sorry, I'm have a little trouble understanding right now. Please try a little later." This was the response I heard... Read more...
Google has carved out a significant chunk of the smart home speaker market with its Home speaker line, which now accounts for nearly a third of all installed home automation devices, according to data and analysis by Consumer Intelligence Researcher Partners (CIRP). Just as importantly, Google has managed to shrink the gap in the market place between its speakers and Amazon's Echo line. No small feat, Amazon essentially created the smart home speaker market when it unexpectedly launched its first Echo product over two and a half years ago. It was an immediate success, and continues to be today.... Read more...
Another holiday season has come and gone, though not before Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, hit a new shopping record. That seems par for course these days, which itself is pretty remarkable. The holiday season was also a boon for Amazon's Prime membership program. More than 4 million started a Prime trial or paid membership in just one hectic week of holiday shopping. The massive influx of Prime memberships (trial and paid combined) during the past week is proof positive that free two-day shipping on millions of qualifying items continues to be a major draw, though far from the only... Read more...
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