Doctor Mom calls in to warn that Amazon has turned on their Echo Sidewalk feature by default, and if users want to opt-out of the network, they have to go into the app settings and turn it off. Leo says that some people may feel it's an invasion of privacy, but it's really just a local network, and it doesn't carry any personal information; it just borrows some WiFi from you.
Amazon plans to use their Echo neighborhood network to making finding geotags accurately. The idea is to compete with Apple AirTags.
Wanting to offer a neighborhood-based wifi network, Amazon has announced Amazon Sidewalk, which uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) radios to connect everyone from house to house. You can get motion alerts from your security cameras, track your pets if they should run away, and even notifications when the mailman leaves you mail. As long as one device sees the other, it can pass along connectivity with a promised small amount of bandwidth.
Doctor Mom joins Leo to talk about Amazon's latest devices that are designed to keep an eye on your parents remotely. It's called the Alexa Care Hub, and it's designed to keep track of parents and loved ones, not what they are doing. It will send kids a message if your parent doesn't do something they normally do like turn on music or if they should fall.
Eric figured out yesterday's question about adding a second Amazon Echo location to your Amazon account. He did it by adding it to his account at HIS location, and then brought it over to his mom's house by adding her phone number. So set all the Echo's up first and then bring them to mom.
OCG wants to know if Google can make the Home Assistant voice hardware become smarter. Leo says that the entire IoT space has kinda hit a limit of what it can do, and there's been very little innovation of late. Even for Amazon Alexa and SIRI. At some point, it should increase in power and intelligence. But it has plateaued right now and voice-activated devices are a disappointment. AI isn't very smart, and it turns out it's very hard to do.
Grant thinks that home assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Echo are great for home automation, but he hates talking to a box and knowing that it listens to everything he says. He wants more control over what it hears and what it doesn't. Leo says that there is an open source version called OpenHab, that is highly customizable and completely internal. And it runs on Raspberry Pi. There's also Mycroft.
Doctor Mom calls in to talk about Amazon's new Alexa feature that listens for the sound broken glass. When it hears glass breaking, it sends you an alert on your phone and can notify your alarm company. Doctor Mom says this new feature joins a feature that monitors your smoke and CO2 alarms as well. So it's listening for a lot more than just the word Alexa or Echo.
Brian is having problems with his Amazon Echo. It tells him it's not connected and to try again later. Leo says that is more likely a WiFi failure, not an Echo issue.
Sam is thinking of getting an Alexa or Google Assistant to control his door locks and is worried about security and privacy. Leo says that all assistants are roughly the same. They listen for a keyword. And there's no evidence that either Amazon or Google are spying on you. Schlage makes one that is dedicated and doesn't need the assistant, so it has a directly line which can be more secure. But any iOT device can get hacked. Bottom line is, that no door lock is perfect. It's a deterrent, a suggestion. But if the bad guy wants to get in, he can.