ecobee alexa

ecobee alexa

This is good news for Amazon.  The company Ecobee is integrating Alexa into their thermostats and light switches.  Which is also good news for consumers.  Right?  In theory, yes.  It will give consumers the ability to have a smart home, that’s integrated with artificial intelligence.  But is that always a good thing?  On one hand, the idea of a smart home is great.  Giving home owners the flexibility to make changes to their homes when they aren’t there.  But this takes it one step farther by integrating the voice control piece from Alexa into the smart devices.  The question I have is around privacy.  Should we be concerned that Alexa is now integrated into our homes? Is she listening at all times?

There were some jokes being made around the question posed to Alexa, asking if the CIA was listening.  Giving people the impression that someone was listening in to their conversations, and ultimately their lives.  Whether or not you choose to believe that is up to you.  I’m not going to get into that particular example, but it is an interesting theory.  Like the good conspiracy theorist that I am, I could take this very far.  But I won’t.  I will suggest that there is the capability to hack into these devices and, in this case listen.  But is that happening is not known at this point.

Another example, which is equally scary in my opinion, is around baby monitors.  I had heard of some instances where the monitors were getting hacked, and people were talking through the microphone to the sleeping child.  And ultimately, into the parents house.  Those cameras can see quite a bit in terms of a physical room.  How scary is that?  But getting back to the thermostat idea, what kinds of opportunities is there for these devices to be hacked?  Would you suddenly come home one night and your heat is cranked, but it’s the middle of July?  Or all of your lights have been on for a week, while you’ve been on vacation.  Which might not be a bad thing, but who has control over these devices is the ultimate question.

If I push the conspiracy theorist aside for a moment, this is kind of cool.  On one hand, you can physically talk to the devices and get them to do whatever you want.  And on the other hand, my assumption is that you also can control the devices via an app on your phone.  Giving you a lot more control over your home environment than you previously had.  I am always in favour of things that make your life easier to manage.  But this is also a huge gain for Amazon.  Think of how many partnerships are possible in terms of integrating with Alexa.  Which means, most of the work is being done for Amazon, and they can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Maybe it’s not that simple or idealistic, but I think you get the point.  They have done the hard work with the development of the initial product, and now they can let others do the heavy lifting for now.  What will we see as a result of these types of partnerships?  How else can we integrate artificial intelligence into our lives?  Whatever the answer is to that is going to be interesting.  What we will all have to decide is whether or not we can live with the possible security challenges that might come up somewhere down the road.



By Staff Writer

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