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Radio broadcast caused Amazon Echo to reset user’s home thermostat

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Amazon Echo

An Amazon Echo user in the United States has claimed the Alexa personal assistant reset his home thermostat after picking up the request from a radio broadcast explaining the device.

The Alexa software, which is like Siri but on a dedicated device, is designed to be a hub for the smart home and interact with all manner of integrated tech.

It can be operated by voice using the ‘wake word’ Alexa and then instructing the speaker to alter temperature, set a timer, read the news and much more.

However, it seems there are still some interesting anomalies for Alexa to work out, for instance recognising who is making the command.

See also: Amazon Echo and Alexa: Everything you need to know

Roy Hagar was listening to an NPR report about the Echo, the Alexa assistant heard the wake word and followed the command outlined in the broadcast (via Business Insider).

Alexa acted as she is designed to by resetting the thermostat to the default 70 degrees.

Another listener and echo owner, Jeff Finan began playing an NPR news summary when Alexa heard her name during the report on the Echo.

The issue, while lighthearted and harmless in this sense does raise questions about the Echo, while its voice activation skills are unsecured.

Should the thermostat incident have happened with an elderly person, the consequences could have been far more serious.

For those using the Echo to control the smart locks around their house? How about a burglar being able to yell “Hey Alexa, unlock the door and turn off the alarm” from outside the house!

Meanwhile, Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired Magazine had some other theories.

Perhaps Amazon should get working on a similar tool to the one Apple deployed in iOS 9 enabling Siri to work only when it recognises the owner’s voice?

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