What will the home of the future look like?
For Apple customers, the home will look, well, like a home. Television, speaker system, always-on Siri ready, able, and capable of answering almost any question or performing any one of hundreds of functions. Lights, door locks, phone calls, channel changing, appliance management, and, of course, shopping.
Shopping? Siri? Sure, it could happen.
For Amazon customers, the home will look, well, like a very technologically cluttered home with various Echo devices in each room, and Dash Buttons scattered everywhere so you can refresh you bread supply from the nearest Whole Foods store with a mere touch. Buttons and Echoes. That’s the future of the home, Amazon style.
I have no doubt that Amazon has sold perhaps thousands or tens of thousands or maybe even more of those cute little Echo devices, and Alexa sounds more lifelike than Siri, but I gotta tell you– Siri does a few things I truly like. Like keeping my privacy. Like not spying on me in every room of the house. Like not running up my Amazon Prime credit card to surprise levels every month.
With an Amazon Echo in every room, always on, always listening for a command or query, and Amazon Dash buttons in the kitchen, bathroom, hallway, garage, and family room, how can that not be called an infestation full of security problems?
One or two Echoes here and there might be acceptable. One Echo model can watch you get undressed and make recommendations for what you should wear or buy to wear. Another Echo model sits in the kitchen, dining room, living room or wherever, and lets you view various videos of this or that– except YouTube videos. Google wisely nixed that idea.
The Dash Buttons could easily become an infestation that grows while your credit card balance grows while your pets and toddlers learn to order from Amazon while you’re not looking.
Dash Buttons work altogether too easy. Get some for various and sundry items in the kitchen or pantry, press it when your supplies run low, and Amazon will ship it direct to your door at some distant point in the future (have you noticed how quickly Amazon Prime can take your order, but how slowly it takes Amazon to fill the order unless you choose faster and more expensive shipping options?).
At some point we could expect Echo and Alexa to take up where Dash Buttons leave off. “Alexa, please order two boxes of Tide, a package of Bounty paper towels, more Maxwell House coffee, Gillette razor blades, and a package of Trojans.”
What can Amazon learn about you from such simple requests and by listening to every conversation in every room? How often you wash clothes, how many people live in your household, how old they are, how clean you are, how frequently a family member shaves, what you eat and drink, and how often members attempt to circumvent procreation.
Honestly, do you want a soulless company to know all that and more? What could go wrong?
Siri might be the dumbest of all the so-called artificially intelligent personal assistants, but I’m beginning to think that’s a good thing.