“Alexa, write me a blog post..”
Chances are that most of us have heard of smart speakers. Perhaps, like me, you own one (or several) yourself. Statistics show that nearly a quarter of all UK households contain a voice-activated smart speaker, with this number expected to increase as said devices become more affordable. But what actually are smart speakers, and why are they booming in popularity?
Alexa, What is a Smart Speaker?
As the name suggests, a smart speaker is a type of speaker that supports hands-free voice commands, through artificial intelligence that is often referred to as a virtual assistant. Smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home (also known as Google Nest) and Apple HomePod, can answer an array of questions and control smart home appliances such as bulbs, light switches and more. Oh, and they can play music, of course!
If you have an Android or iOS device, it’s likely you have one of these virtual voice assistants built-in. From Google Assistant and Siri to Alexa, these artificial intelligence technologies can be found almost everywhere and are not only limited to smart speakers.
Hey Siri, Help Me Get to Sleep
Perhaps ironically, smart speakers can be surprisingly useful when it comes to sleep, so much so I personally use my Amazon Echo to play various soothing sounds to help me doze off! Whether it’s white noise, pink noise, the sound of the forest or simply a bedtime story, you may be pleasantly surprised by how useful these devices are in our bedrooms.
So, we’ve established smart speakers can be the ultimate convenience around the home. From helping us control our lights to simply playing music without the touch of a button, these devices can be incredibly useful. But what if having an always-listening speaker in your home sends chills down your spine?
OK Google, Why the Privacy Concerns?
Smart speakers are always listening. They work via voice commands and require a “wake word” to be said before they answer a question, play music or complete a task. For the Amazon Echo, you simply need to say “Alexa”, followed by your desired function. Simple, right?
Whilst this may sound all well and good, there have been numerous privacy scandals in recent years regarding these devices. As outlined in this article, Amazon itself has admitted that employees listen to customer recordings in order to improve speech recognition.
Whatsmore, some of these smart speakers have screens, with the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub being just two of the more common examples. Whilst ideal for video calling family or following a recipe, sceptics fear that you’re not only being listened to but watched as well!
With this all being said, despite a lack of hard proof, it comes as no surprise that some privacy experts argue that these devices should be banned from the bedroom completely. Whether you agree with this statement or not, it’s certainly a damning argument that raises enough questions on these convenient yet controversial devices.
Alexa, Where Can I Find a New Mattress?
If it’s a perfect night of forty winks you’re after then maybe we can help. Before spending money on extra gadgets to play you soothing sounds, it could be more worthwhile investing in something without controversy - a quality new mattress! At Happy Beds, we have a wide range of memory foam mattresses available in all sizes that can help you sleep soundly every night.