A grandmother saying “Ok Google” to activate the Google Home smart speaker became all rage recently. Now it is the time of Amazon’s Echo speaker to be in the talking point.
An Amazon Echo Dot speaker has been set off automatically and placed a random shopping order through the connected account of its owner. The Sun reports that an ad activated the digital assistant Alexa powering the smart speaker. The ad that set it off featured a man’s voice that said: “Alexa, reorder Purina cat food.”
After hearing the command, the Echo Dot obliged with a response that said: “I’ve found Purina cat food. Would you like to buy it?” The smart speaker’s owner was somewhat annoyed to find that his device had taken it upon itself to place order for a cat food on Amazon.
The process led to the male owner of Echo Dot to file a complaint with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) where he challenged whether the statement “Alexa, reorder Purina cat food” was socially irresponsible. The ASA, however, announced today that the complaint has been upheld after assurance from Amazon. The e-commerce giant said in its defence that an extra security step was in place to confirm the order where the customers need to verbally confirm for any order made through Echo smart devices.
While Amazon claims that an additional step is in place to prevent random orders being placed through Echo, the order got placed in the case of this man, when the ad was played in October. The smart speaker’s owner immediately cancelled it.
Amazon revealed early this month a system called “acoustic fingerprints” which helps Echo understand when an advertisement is being broadcasted to ensure the assistant is not triggered. The company deployed the tech ahead of Super Bowl this month.
An Echo user simply needs to say ‘Alexa‘ in order to wake up the assistant. The Sun adds that Amazon showed its audio-blocking technique to the ASA which found the company’s response is adequate for not placing random orders through voice-controlled speakers. The whole event would have made the owner of Echo Dot more cautious and probably keep a close watch on Alexa.