Amazon publicly launched Echo last week, a Star Trek-like voice-activated personal assistant for the home, many years in the making. It can answer questions, play music, and control smart devices from across the room. Some have called it “Siri on Steroids.” I call it creepy.
I realize this qualm is futile. I use Google, Facebook, and Apple everyday. I know they collect my data and probably understand me better than I do myself. Still, there is a perceived privacy and implied control when I am an active participant. That's not the case with Amazon's Echo; it is always listening.
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.
I'm sure Echo and devices like it will soon be commonplace. For now, the novelty of rattling off a grocery list to a machine at the cost of inviting Big Brother into my living room just doesn't do it for me.