It’s great that voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are always-listening which means that we don’t have to press a button to activate it, thus making it easier to issue commands without having to get up from our seat. Unfortunately it seems that the always-listening feature has a downside, as many Alexa owners quickly discovered.
According to a report from The CW6 (via Mashable), it seems that during a news broadcast, a TV anchor was reporting on how a child ordered herself a $160 dollhouse through the Amazon Echo, in which the anchor added, “I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.’’ Like we said, with Alexa always listening, it seems that it picked up the phrase and assumed it was a command from their user.
Thankfully Amazon has a policy in which they say that accidental physical orders can be returned for free. In the meantime Amazon has also stated that there are ways to prevent such accidents/mistakes from happening in the future, such as turning off the ability to make purchases via voice, or requiring a confirmation code.
Hopefully in the future these accidents can be prevented with maybe voice recognition, where the voice assistants will only activate when it recognizes your voice.