Amazon Echo’s Red Ring of Shame

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In follow up to my post last week titled Alexa, Should I be Worried about You?, I wanted to share a few updates that may be helpful.

In my house, we’ve had a few more issues of Alexa coming to life when she shouldn’t have.  This has some of my family members very worried that Alexa is listening and recording us when she shouldn’t be.

Amazon is very explicit that the Echo only comes to life and records when you say theAlexa Settings.png word “Alexa” or an alternate “wake word” that you may have set.  When Alexa is wrong, you can easily figure out what happened by using the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.  In the app, go to Settings and then General, then History.  Here you will find a list of everything that woke Alexa up.  You can see the words that woke Alexa and when you click on an entry, you can also play back the phrase that woke Alexa up.  From here you can delete the recording of the phrase.  Echo only records what it hears after the wake word.  You also have the option to tell Amazon if Alexa got it right or more importantly, got it wrong.  If Alexa got it wrong, you can send a note to Amazon and even ask to have them contact you to learn more.  Anything you send in will be used to tune Alexa to make the device more accurate and reliable.

I tried this over this past weekend, when Alexa picked up an inaccurate phrase that did not include our wake word, which is Alexa.  Amazon got back to me almost immediately and I had the option to call or chat with the Echo support team, to explain in detail what went wrong, so they could work to improve the overall accuracy.  The reason I had to call or chat is that Amazon does not allow access to anything recorded from your device.  They have to “speak” with you to learn more.  They can digitally review what took place to tune the Echo, but they cannot directly access anything that the Echo has recorded in your home.  I’m impressed with Amazon’s responsiveness and commitment to make Echo better and not intrusive.

All of this said, if you want a fool proof assurance that Alexa is not listening to you when you don’t want her to, simply press the microphone button on the top of your Echo device.  The button will turn red and the ring that glows blue when Alexa is actively listening, also turns red.  I’m calling this the Echo’s Red Ring of Shame.  When you want the Echo to listen, press the button again and the red ring goes away.  I’m betting when I’m not home, the Echo will be dejectedly showing it’s red ring of shame.Small-winking-face

EchoRedRing

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