A TV news report about an unwanted Amazon Echo order turned into a comedy of errors when the audio triggered further Echos belonging to viewers. It’s a reminder that not everyone thinks through the user settings on devices.
The CW6 station in San Diego reported on a case of a six-year-old who, not quite understanding the device’s ordering capabilities (or perhaps understanding it perfectly well) asked it “can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse.” With the parents having not set a confirmation code for purchases, the device promptly ordered a dollhouse.
CW6 covered the story, everyone had a good laugh (the parents having since donated the dollhouse to a childrens hospital) and all would have been fine… except when the film ended, the anchor commented “I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse’.”
Multiple viewers then contacted the station to complain that their Echo had heard “Alexa” – the standard trigger word to start a voice command – and then interpreted the rest of the sentence as a shopping order.
It’s not the first time TV audio has caused such problems. Back in 2014 Microsoft produced a commercial in which Aaron Paul demonstrated how “Xbox on” and “Xbox, go to Titanfall” would acts as voice commands for the Xbox One’s Kinect system. Unfortunately, if not predictably, the command also worked on some viewers’ consoles.