The theme of most of the new gadgets and upgrades at the CES 2017 (Consumer Electronics Show) was smart everything. Take an everyday product, let it listen and you can voice control everything from your smart remote to control everything. The major conveniences of smart everything are fantastic, but at what cost. Your privacy goes out the window. There have been reports that certain household assistant devices actually can store what they have heard but this is unconfirmed. Regarding Amazon Echo specifically, they say no. The tech giant says Echo is always listening for the trigger word, “Alexa” or “Amazon” to start recording a question or request to be sent to the cloud to process the inquiry, but it does not listen to or record private conversations. There is also a remote that allows the user to disable the voice activated control which will leave it inoperable until activating again.
Ask anyone two decades ago if they use online banking, and most would tell you they didn’t trust it and just were not comfortable accessing and paying bills over the internet for fear of identity theft. A lot has changed since then. According to the American Bankers Association, more than half of all Americans have moved towards the convenience that banking online can offer. In fact, roughly 62 percent of Americans prefer online banking to traditional banking. This type of shift in how consumers embrace technology with smart controlled assistants like Alexa, the smart mirror from Griffin Technology, or even self-driving cars like Tesla is a path towards some really great products and services.
How much is too much? As consumers, how much of your privacy are you willing to give up to have modern conveniences and the envy of your neighbors? The best rule of thumb is to be aware of the products you purchase, of what they offer and think about how they perform an action. For example, you take a picture with your smart phone and it is able to make a folder or group all of your pictures from your Disneyland vacation automatically. How did it do that? Well, one method is that it uses GPS to tag your location in the image metadata that is embedded in your image, upload an image in a metadata viewer to see what you are saving. Metapics is has a nice interface to see the data.
As consumers, we need to demand high levels of assurance that our privacy is a concern and identity theft is a real consequence of sloppy follow-through of a quite possibly, a brilliant idea. I for one, am looking forward to not using my keys to unlock my home, able to preheat the oven or prepare a nice warm bath just before arriving home. As long as all of it is secure and private, sign me up.