back to article Out, damned Spot! Amazon emits Echo ball with screen, inevitable ever-listening mic

Amazon expanded its line of Echo cloud commerce intercoms on Wednesday with the introduction of Echo Spot, a spherical hodgepodge of screen, mics and speaker for communing with the company's Alexa software and demanding doorstep deliveries. With living rooms already served and surveilled by elder Echo devices, Echo Spot …

  1. corestore

    It looks like...

    A bedside Nest.

    Can I hack it and put Linux and Hercules on it and run MVS on it? Time will tell!

  2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    nightstand or desk

    Nope, nope, nope, nope

    1. mics39

      Re: nightstand or desk

      I’ve a very good friend since childhood who habitually goes into serious arguments while soundly asleep. His wife assures me he’s still at it. So this is perfect present for him and his new audience.

      1. FuzzyWuzzys

        Re: nightstand or desk

        "I’ve a very good friend since childhood who habitually goes into serious arguments while soundly asleep."

        My wife informs me that I talk continuously at what she reckons is about 3-4 times my normal speaking rate and apparently I can rabbit for about 2-3 hours at time! I also have a habit of laughing in my sleep, some nights I have to be woken up to stop me with the longest she was able to tolerate me being around 45 mins of continuous non-stop laughing and giggling. No wonder I wake up with a sore throat and aching face!

        1. Chemical Bob

          Re: nightstand or desk

          I usually talk to the dog (which really weirds the dog out) or say stuff like "bow, bow shwup the bed", "go to shit" or "mmm... ass".

          And, yes, I got in trouble for the last one.

  3. frank ly

    "Alexa, .....

    .... I'd like to buy a .amazon domain name."

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    That reminds me

    my old clock radio with the red 7-seg leds on the front is getting a bit tired. Probably a good idea to get a spare while I still can.

    1. Warm Braw

      Re: That reminds me

      You've got to careful of ageing radios.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    One for the laydees?

    Can it play pr0n vids on the nightstand? Asking for a friend.

    1. HxBro
      Paris Hilton

      Re: One for the laydees?

      I'd be worried about the camera accidentally gets turned on (pun intended) whilst in the throws of passion with the wrong keyword.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: One for the laydees?

        throws of passion

        ITYM "throes". Unless your idea of sexytimes is some xxxtreme wrestling with Giant Haystacks or Big Daddy - in which case, not only "throws of passion" but "headlocks of titillation" and "bodyslams of naughty bits", indeed.

        1. HxBro
          Thumb Up

          Re: One for the laydees?

          Whatever floats your boat :)

          I hadn't had my coffee yet

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: One for the laydees?

        I'm quite sure there will be soon an amateur porn channel on Amazon Prime....

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: One for the laydees?

          Indeed, a nightstand device with a front-facing camera and the current state of IoT security and general hacking. What could go wrong...

          I think I'll stick with my venerable 7-segment displaying clock radio without all the stupid unnecessary stuff thanks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One for the laydees?

      Can it play pr0n vids on the nightstand?

      I reckon it's more designed to record pr0n from that position. Do you really want an always listening device in your bedroom? I don't, but in my case I don't even want it in my entire home, period, so I may be a tad biased here.

  6. NonSSL-Login

    Forget staring dogs, cats and partners

    Is it creepy if the NSA watches you sleeping?

    1. macjules
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Forget staring dogs, cats and partners

      It depends upon how you snore. They can tell if you are a law abiding citizen terrorist by the way you snore now, hence the need to record all video.

  7. Updraft102


    "Ok Google..."

    "Hey Siri..."


    "Hey Cortana..."




    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge


      "Ok Google..."

      "Hey Siri..."


      "Hey Cortana..."

      An AI orgy in the making...

    2. A K Stiles

      Don't forget...

      Everyone's favourite underdog -

      Bixby ! (Here boy! c'mon! who's a good boy? Yes, you are! you Are! yes!)

    3. FuzzyWuzzys

      I bet a quick scan of YouTube will show that someone has....

  8. 0laf Silver badge


    In 1984 the Telescreens are forced into all homes by the government. In the reality of 2017 we pay for the privilege of being surveyed by our corporate masters.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: 1984

      Looks like Huxley got it right:

  9. Milton

    And how soon before they won't even pretend to need a warrant?

    So governments, using the pretext of terrorism, have arrogated to themselves the ability to read your mail and spy on your browsing history, inspect your phones, tablets and laptops, demand encryption keys and so on and on and on. Legislation that was supposedly for specific limited purposes has had a bus driven through it to the point where even local councils use purported anti-terror powers to spy on ratepayers. The concepts of due process, judicial oversight of warrants, probable cause and the rest have been constantly diluted.

    None of it, of course, was the slightest use in preventing yet another disaffected lame-arse from failing to construct a workable bomb, or stopping a bunch of idiots without passports, plane tickets or knowledge of chemistry failing to build a "two phase liquid bomb"—shock! horror!—most terrorists, thank heavens, are useless, incompetent losers and the few that are not will be using solid encryption long after some ministerial imbecile has buggered up the internet by insisting on "back-doors" for everyone else. Then again, once in a while half a dozen law enforcement types can infiltrate a community and goad some semi-literate, gullible jackass to say he might consider blowing up an airport, one day ... if only he knew how to build a bomb and had the bus fare—and just like that, a massive terrorist plot has been foiled.

    Even when the PIRA was actually dangerous, and causing more havoc on a weekly basis than we see now from one year to the next, politicians had the decency and good sense not to give the terrorist what they wanted, understanding that a healthy society is NOT a police state.

    Thirty years ago there would have been proper outrage if the government said it would read all your post, check all your library books—and install microphones and cameras in your house.

    Now you are buying them yourself.

  10. rmason

    I know these things are not looked upon very well on here, but we love our echo and also have dots on our bluetooth speakers/radios. We have music and or radio on pretty much whenever we are awake, and it does very well.

    I'll be having one of these for the bedroom, sorry.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Each to their own.

      I like music, but not on all the time as "background" - I like to focus on music.

      .. if I had music on all the time I could miss out on other sounds (I like to hear the calls of the owls, cattle, sheep, dawn chorus etc - not much point being out in the sticks if you are oblivious to country sounds)

      1. rmason

        I have two children aged 1 and 3. They are all the wildlife I get the opportunity to hear!

        Honestly I prefer our solution to that of most of my peers. TV on 24/7 as background/babysitter.

        We go with music and actually doing stuff with the kids.

        I'm 34 and the OH is 35, I think most of our age group accept the whole "you are the product" thing and accept the trade off.

        I don't care if the NSA want to listen to me. I really don't.

        1. DropBear

          And you might never need to. But rest assured, your kids will, at some point - and if not, their kids definitely will. Right now most don't care because there are no visible consequences, but that won't stay like that forever. Only by the time they'll be plainly clear, it will be way, way too late...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "I don't care if the NSA want to listen to me. I really don't."

          Is your name Tuttle or Buttle?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You need not worry about the NSA they are not on the Snoopers Charter 'allow list' (and we know the ISP's and Gov will keep the data collected both secure, AND only between allowed Gov services), like GCHQ, Food Standards Agency, HSE, Gambling Commission, etc, etc

          Lets hope your kids to exclaim to Alexa that they live in a 'terrorist house' (terraced) like that poor kid did in Dec15 ... I suspect unless you are Muslim you will be ok though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would never own one but I can see how they are good fun and probably useful, but the bedroom? No, the bedroom should be a temple of solitude and peace...with the exception of the regular bondage sessions for the Mrs and I! We only allow one gadget in the bedroom, that's the alarm clock. No phones ( except when I'm on call every few weeks ), no tablets, no TV, nothing. There's enough waves floating around the universe without filling the bedroom with even more EMFs!

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Alexa, buy me a Rolex... Alexa, confirm purchase...

    ...s the first thing I say when entering someone's house now. Great fun to see the blood draining from their face, and who doesn't like Rolexes? A win for me, a win for them.

  12. MooseMonkey

    You lot must have much better lives than me. I have a few echo devices in my home, and I can't think of one thing that has occurred there in the last 12 months that was slightly interesting.

    I did have the hallway painted, so there was some paint drying at some point, lets call that the highlight.

    1. DropBear

      See, that's the funny part - you're not the one who gets to decide what is interesting and what isn't. All they need is just "six lines in your handwriting" after all - but you might get lucky, they might pick someone else...

  13. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Want, want, want

    These are brilliant! Do they have a waterproof version which the family and I can take into the shower?

    1. Anomalous Cowherder

      Re: Want, want, want

      You shower with your family??

  14. FuzzyWuzzys

    "Captain Cyborg"

    Anyone remember 10 years ago how we all laughed at poor old Dr Kev, "Captain Cyborg" himself and his obsession with having tech around him, his house, work and about his person constantly?

    Hmmm, maybe he wasn't so funny after all judging by the number of people on this thread handing over their lives to Bezos in return for....erm, wel I'm sure there's some positives to all this on-demand tech!

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: "Captain Cyborg"

      No, no still funny.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Always on microphone?

    How much of the "always on mic" is being sent off-device? Surely these devices have enough smarts to only wake-up on recognising their activation sound and then only process what is heard after that?

    Has anyone tried acting out a "play" of terrorists organising an attack to see if there's any kind of response? Or better yet, discussing a major successful hack attack on Amazon to see if that triggers anything?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Always on microphone?

      Has anyone tried acting out a "play" of terrorists organising an attack to see if there's any kind of response?

      I suspect that TPTB would handle that in a very similar way to you performing the same "play" in the checkin line at Gatwick airport... they tend not to have any sense of humour or whimsy about such things.

      Still, at least we have a free society where we can say what we want, believe what we want, associate with whomever we want, eat what we want and dress how we want - right? Remember, kids, that's why the terrorists hate us.

  16. Drew Scriver

    One man's thought is another government's crime...

    A lot of people are thinking they don't have anything to worry about because "they're not doing anything wrong".

    History teaches us that we don't get to decide what's right or wrong - governments, elites, and special interest groups do. In addition, your location plays a role.

    Imagine travelling to a western country from a more repressive country. You visit some people at home and speak freely about some concerns you have. You don't even notice the Echo devices scattered throughout the home, and your hosts don't even think twice about them. After all, they make life "so much easier". Voice recognition has already determined your identity and AI/ML kicks in and your gov's law enforcement agency is alerted. At least you won't have to carry your bags yourself when you return to your home airport.

    Well, you say, this is perhaps an issue if you live in a repressive country. However, quite a few western countries have their own restrictions. The German High Court, for instance, have ruled that the government is bound to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”

    You might argue that collecting evidence this way is illegal. You would be wrong.

    Remember that European countries went after tax evaders after illegally obtaining a CD from a Swiss banker? Also, under the rubric of "national security" a lot of laws have been circumvented. Furthermore, often foreigners do not enjoy the same protections as nationals.

    Lastly, in many US states it is not illegal to make a recording if "one of the parties agrees". Arguably, the owner of internet-enabled "convenience devices" has already given consent to be recorded.

    Unfortunately, the genie is already out of the bottle. Can you really expect that any conversations are private if one or more of the participants carries a smart phone, wears a smart watch, or uses listening devices from Amazon, Google, and the like?

    It is merely a matter of time before we see authorities act on the data these devices collect. Be it for "national security", to "fight crime", to "counteract parallel societies", or to "protect society from individuals who harbor undesirable convictions".

  17. Sleep deprived

    Time to start selling my widget on Amazon

    It's just called "Ah A Aaaaaa"

  18. Seajay#


    I really hope the standards war ends soon.

    I know they're competitors but it would be so neat to be able to say "Alexa, tell YouTube to play SNL on my chromecast".

    At the moment I can turn my TV on with Alexa (via harmony) but I can't do anything with it once it's on. That means it's not even yet at the point where it's a fun toy and therefore a very long way from the point where it's useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Integration

      If you can install Kodi on your TV or a RaspberryPI you can do, Alexa, ask Kodi to play <Movie/TVShow>

      and each echo device can be linked to a different kodi instance.

      Kodi Forum is down atm, but a google will find it easily for you.

      1. Seajay#

        Re: Integration

        Very interesting, thank you. I'll look in to that.

        Sadly, as usual, the pirates are leading the way in usability. Another self-inflicted wound from media companies.

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