Would you like an always-ready smart speaker with a camera and a microphone in your bedroom? That's what Amazon's new Echo Look is all about.
The original Amazon Echo was already always-listening so it wouldn't miss any voice command, but adding a camera too is a whole different matter, especially since the new Echo Look is designed for the bedroom.
Amazon Echo Look Purpose
First things first: for those unfamiliar with Amazon's latest gadget, the Echo Look offers the regular features of the regular Echo, such as reading the news, sports scores, weather forecast and such, but it also has a built-in camera. Why? Well, the Echo Look aims to be your fashion sidekick, ready to take a picture or a video to offer a second opinion on your outfit.
Amazon outfitted the gadget with special software that blurs the background so your outfit stands out, and you can also get a 360-degree view of yourself thanks to the recording function and accompanying app.
What About Echo Look Privacy Concerns?
Having an internet-connected smart device with a camera and a microphone in your bedroom sounds like a disaster ready to happen. We can already imagine the scandal with awkward recordings and leaked nudes after an Echo Look was hacked.
Having any such device where you sleep, get dressed and tend to other private matters poses an inherent privacy risk from the get go, as devices are vulnerable to hacking.
As TechCrunch points out, Amazon's response to privacy concerns was somewhat of a mixed bag. The Echo Look stores all photos and videos it captures into the cloud, where they remain until you specifically delete it. The content stored on AWS is encrypted, but Amazon staff may view photos and videos to improve services.
"We have rigorous controls in place to restrict access to these images," Amazon tells TechCrunch.
Just like the regular Echo, the Echo Look is always listening to detect the wake word. Once it detects the trigger, it will sport a blue light to show that it's streaming audio to the AWS cloud. This means that in theory, if the blue light is off it means the Echo Look is not recording and sending data over to the AWS cloud. On the bright side, the camera on the Amazon Echo Look is always off until you activate it through voice commands, according to the company. In practice, however, things may be a bit different and there's a good reason why many choose to cover their laptop's camera with tape, for instance.
The smart speaker also has a button you can press to shut the microphone off completely, but again, this may not be hack-proof. The best way to go about the new Echo Look may be to carefully weigh the advantages and the risks if you have privacy concerns.
If the perks outweigh the privacy concerns and you decide to get one, it might be best to just unplug it or cover it when it's not in use to limit the risks. With internet-connected cameras and such, you never know.