Virtual assistant

Amazon’s new products include a flying security camera for your home, a virtual assistant for kids

Amazon released its latest line of connected hardware at a virtual event on Thursday, and also took the opportunity to address ongoing privacy concerns over its virtual assistant Alexa.

A new command, “Alexa, delete everything I’ve ever said,” will clear a person’s request history to Alexa. Users can also enable a new setting that will ensure Alexa deletes everything people say as it happens.

Updated privacy features come next concerns were raised last year on Amazon’s practice of listening to and recording certain anonymous queries to help improve Alexa performance. There was, however, an option for users to opt out of sharing their voice clips with Amazon.

“It’s a balancing act for Amazon between monetizing its golden customer base and heightened privacy concerns as the regulatory spotlight on big tech gets brighter,” said Daniel Ives, managing director of research at stocks at Wedbush Securities.

If privacy-conscious consumers weren’t ready to install an Amazon speaker in their homes, they’ll likely opt out of the company’s biggest announcement as well. The “Ring Always Home Cam” is a $250 drone-style camera that can fly remotely from room to room. The idea is to check for those nagging questions after you leave the house, like if the stove hasn’t been turned off or if a window has been left open.

Jamie Siminoff, founder and chief inventor of Ring, said he discovered that some customers were buying multiple Ring cameras to leave at home.

“Instead of just encouraging customers to buy more cameras and install them in more places in the home, how could we solve this problem with one solution?” Siminoff wrote in a blog post. “We wanted to create a camera that could give users the flexibility of every vantage point they want in the home, while adhering to our founding principles of privacy and security.”

Simonoff also addressed the inevitable privacy questions people will have about the new flying camera.

“The device rests in the base and the camera is physically blocked when anchored. The camera will only start recording when the device leaves the base and begins to fly via one of the predefined trajectories. We even designed Always Home Cam to buzz at a certain volume, so it’s clear the camera is moving and recording,” he said. “It’s the privacy you can hear.”

Echo Dot Kids EditionAmanda Ringstad / Amazon

Amazon is even stepping up its efforts to bring Alexa to kids. The company has launched its latest kid-friendly smart speaker, the $60 Echo Dot Kids Edition, which comes in the shape of a tiger or a panda. Alexa upgrades now allow the virtual assistant to distinguish whether an adult or a child is speaking. If Alexa hears a child’s voice, she will switch to child-friendly mode when answering questions.

The company defended its Echo Dot Kids Edition in a blog post last year after several senators called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the speakers violated privacy law. kids online. Amazon said it launched the product line with input from major industry groups, followed best practices to ensure verifiable parental consent, and offered multiple ways for parents to delete their child’s records and profile.