Amazon's Echo is a Speaker that Listens to Everything You Say

Amazon's Echo is a Speaker that Listens to Everything You Say

Amazon Echo Speaker 150x

The Echo plays all the music while you whisper sweet nothings into its ear.

Amazon is now beta testing a new speaker called the Echo, which is capable of more than just streaming your T-Swift favorites from Spotify (oh wait, nevermind).

The Echo costs $99 for invited Prime members (or $199 for the non-Prime crowd), and it's a decently-specced WiFi-capable Bluetooth speaker on the surface. Once connected to your network, Echo can pull down sports, news, and weather updates, along with music and radio from the Amazon Music Library, Prime Music service, TuneIn, ESPN, NPR, and iHeartRadio. Bluetooth allows your paired phone, tablet or PC to push any other music to the speaker, local tunes, Pandora and Spotify included.

With most of the software/app boxes checked, the Echo (which I have not gone ears-on with yet) boasts an "advanced audio design," which is marketing speak for a downward-firing 2.5-inch woofer, two-inch tweeter, and reflex design. Put differently, the Echo has half the speakers of the UE Boom from Logitech, which also costs $200.

But the real (potential) allure of the Echo comes in the form of voice commands and its Siri-like response cues. You can set alarms and reminders by shouting (talking) at the Echo, while asking questions results in the speaker giving you the best answer it can muster right back. You can even add items to your Amazon shopping list. The interaction is triggered by a "wake word," which can be set to anything, I suppose. You can even set it to Satan, I bet. SATAN, PLEASE PLAY SLAYER ON PANDORA.

And by listening to everything you have to say, Echo will get smarter over time. Paired with the massive cloud infrastructure that Amazon has at its disposal, and OTA software updates, Echo will see new features on a regular basis, and the ability to infiltrate your everyday life more and more as the weeks go on. Eventually you will come home to Echo making you a steak dinner, with that package of razors you have on Amazon Subscription waiting for you on the kitchen table.

And then you realize you common law married Echo by mistake, and the merger between man and machine will be complete.

Sources: Amazon | The Verge


Urgh, yeah, "the cloud" makes this scary to me. Especially with Amazon, the guys who are almost as bad as Facebook with their targeted ads and creating a consumer profile of you. I think I'd rather not.

Urgh, yeah, "the cloud" makes this scary to me. Especially with Amazon, the guys who are almost as bad as Facebook with their targeted ads and creating a consumer profile of you. I think I'd rather not.

Embrace the warm tentacles of THE CLOUUUUUUUUUUUD!!!

Cool idea, but the fact that it's connected to the 'net, records and learns about what I want makes this worrisome.

Tech is already getting intrusive, and I don't want more spyware in my life masquerading as a 'quality of life' product. I just cannot trust any company with this sort of thing. They almost always use it to create ads based on my search history/the sites I visit and I already find shit disturbingly designed.

Now if you will excuse me, I am about to use a phone booth to order a pizza Now where did I put my Walkman?

Devin Connors:
Embrace the warm tentacles of THE CLOUUUUUUUUUUUD!!!

You should've said so sooner. This is the cloud you are talking about.

Well, I'd have to be gibberingly, saliva-drippingly insane not to embrace that madness, I mean, cloud.

I can't help but be reminded of that baseball bat from The Simpsons that had a camera in it.

I wonder how Amazon is going to market this always listening always connected device in ways that don't make it all a bit Xbone for them. It's only going to take a couple of AMAZON IS WATCHING YOU stories from Fox to kill it, which might not be a bad thing.

You know I like Amazon as an online retailer (after I clear my cookies to make sure they aren't trying any funny business again), but they really need to stop putting their logo and software on anything that isn't a tablet/ebook reader.

I would never pay them $99 for a damn microphone to focus on keywords they can use to market more crap towards my demographics. The lack of a good speaker set up and the hassle with wifi/bluetooth alone makes this thing not worth either price. I'll stick with computer and cheap mp3 players with reliable controls to blast music.

I don't know who is worse MS and the formerly all seeing Kinect, or Amazon's new bug the victims pay for themselves.

I don't want things to listen to me. I talk to myself. Last thing I need it for something to listen to my insanity.

Ack! Speaker that listens back!

Whats next, TV that watches back?

Oh wait kinect...

Orwell you were an optimist!

I can type both faster and more clearly than I can talk, so no thank you on the conveinence front all by itself. Let's not even touch the privacy concerns.

Seriously, just imagine this thing hearing "I forgot the condom" followed by moaning, and next week pregnancy-test ads start filling your inbox.

Yeah, this thing is never entering my house. I do not even have a plugged in microphone, webcam, or carry around a cellphone so why would I want this?

It actually seems pretty interesting. Machine learning is definitely and interesting field that holds a great deal of potential in the future. And by interesting i mean from a purely academic standpoint. Would i consider having one in my house, even as a free gift? Not even a consideration.
Machine learning has great potential, potential that is currently being used to great effect for mass data mining of people's personal information in the creepiest of ways. And as a side note, this is the part where i shake my walking cane in disapproval at the TV like the decrepit old twenty something i am, but screw all these gimmicky new interfaces. This voice controlled bullshit is still not ready to be anything more than a parlor game of 'how will it misinterpret my command this time'. As for cloud storage, if i could trust them to keep my data safe it seems fine in theory, but i still prefer a standard backup on an external HDD that i have complete control over.

A super inflated pricetag so they can try to market it as half price to make it sound exclusive at first.

They're trying really hard to get people in on their spy-speakers.

I've said this elsewhere, but the Xbox One came in for an awful lot of criticism for needing a compulsory always-on internet connection and a box that was always spying on everything that happened in your living room. Despite having backtracked on that to the point that you can now get one without kinect at all, it's still not doing as well as the alternatives. Amazon are now trying to sell a product that does all the spying without any of the actual benefits. I would say I don't see this going well, but more to the point I really hope it doesn't; I really don't want other companies to start getting the idea that spying on people in their homes is actually acceptable.

Yeah, when they advertised this to me, I thought of it as an Xbone for my ears. And I don't want an Xbone for my ears. If I needed one of these, I'd go for the Logitech or JBL or basically any of the alternatives.


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