The retail giant's Alexa voice assistant aims to revolutionize the shopping experience, but recently delivered a big surprise to one six-year-old's parents. Dallas, Tx. resident Megan Neitzel, recently received the Echo Dot as a holiday gift from her in-laws. However, Neitzel was surprised when she received a confirmation email for cookies and a dollhouse that had been ordered. According to Neitzel, the device had not been hooked up for long, and while she overheard her kids telling Alexa Knock-Knock jokes, the cost of the items on the invoice was no laughing matter. "It was a $170 Kidcraft dollhouse and 64 ounces, four pounds, of cookies," she told Foxnews.com.
Amazon's Alexa voice assistant may have information useful to a murder investigation in Arkansas, where authorities issued a groundbreaking warrant in a case that evokes Apple's spat with the FBI earlier this year. Police want access to data from the Amazon Echo speaker belonging to James Bates of Bentonville, Ark., who was charged earlier this year with first-degree murder, The Information reported Tuesday. Since the Echo speaker is always listening for Alexa voice commands, the audio it recorded could provide clues about what happened inside Bates' home on Nov. 22, 2015, when a man was found dead in his hot tub. Amazon is fairly secretive about how it handles the audio recorded from Alexa-enabled devices. According to its privacy statement, the company collects "information about use of Alexa and its interaction with your Alexa Enabled Product (such as device type, voice information, content metadata, and location)."
Artificial intelligence and voice-based computing are likely two of the main components of the smart devices of the future, and Amazon's surprisingly popular Echo is certainly one device to beat. The home assistant can offer fast responses to some of your immediate needs, like playing music, or giving you the information you require the most, including weather, traffic, sports scores, to name just a few. To many people, the Alexa assistant that powers Echo is about as robust as Siri. Apple's voice-assistant that resides inside the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and iPod touch, can easily do the same things. But Alexa does things better and faster than Siri not because Amazon is better than Apple at processing voice requests, but because the devices offer vastly different experiences.