The Amazon Echo smart speakers has been a very successful product and is expected to dominate the artificial intelligence space this year.
The smart home device is powered by Amazon's personal digital assistant, Alexa, which is capable of a wide range of functions such as answering questions, controlling connected devices, and carrying out a multitude of tasks. However, for homes with residents that share a similar name with the digital assistant, Alexa is causing problems.
Amazon Alexa Wreaking Havoc In Homes
Most companies that have developed digital personal assistants gave them human names. While Google went with Assistant, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon went with Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, respectively.
However, according to a Wall Street Journal report, compared to Siri and Cortana, Alexa is a far more common name. In fact, it was the 39th most popular name in the United States in 2016, which means that there are homes wherein the Amazon Echo digital assistant shares names with a resident.
The problem stems from the fact that Alexa is the default voice command for waking up the Amazon Echo, with whatever said afterward being considered as a command by the smart speaker.
The report chronicles different scenarios wherein people named Alexa are having trouble with the Amazon Echo in their home.
"I always liked my name, until Amazon gave it to a robot," said 24-year-old Alexa Sussman from New York. Alexa Scott from North Carolina said that her Amazon Echo activates a lot during board game nights, when they tell her that it is her turn. Alexa Jones from Nevada even had some family members treat her like the Echo with commands, which was funny at first but now needs to end.
People named Alexa are not the only ones experiencing the problem, as even calls for Alex and Alexis are being confused by the Amazon Echo as a wake up command for Alexa.
In fact, Amazon Echo users do not even have to live with people with the same name as the digital personal assistant to experience problems. For example, when 27-year-old Jordann Mitchell was watching TV, a character asked a girl named Alexis to order 12 pints of milk. The Amazon Echo actually woke up and placed the order, but thankfully, the order did not go through as owners need to provide confirmation by saying "yes."
A similar incident happened earlier this year in San Diego, when numerous homes ordered for dollhouses after Alexa picked up a command from a local news report on TV.
How To Fix The Alexa Problem
Unknown to many users, there is an option to change the default wake word of the Amazon Echo from Alexa to "Echo," "Amazon," and starting this week, "computer." By changing the wake word, homes will hopefully solve the problem of having one of their residents share the same name as the digital personal assistant.
In addition, to prevent Alexa from sending through errant orders, users can also choose to disable voice purchases or require a confirmation code for any purchases being made for them by Alexa.