Amazon wants to put a camera and microphone in your bedroom with the UK launch of its latest Echo home device.
The camera on the £119.99 ($129) Echo Spot, which doubles up as a ‘smart alarm’, will probably be facing directly at the user’s bed.
The device, which is already available in the US has such sophisticated microphones it can hear people talking from across the room – even if music is playing.
However, there remain privacy concerns over using such a device in the home.
Amazon devices have previously activated when they’re not wanted meaning this small device could turn into a potential spy.
It is the latest edition to the tech giant’s family of devices and is as usual powered by virtual assistant Alexa.
Although the camera on the Echo Spot is primarily used to facilitate video calling, it could be hacked and used for malicious purposes, writes The Verge.
Last month a hack by British security researcher Mark Barnes saw 2015 and 2016 versions of the Echo turned into a live microphone.
Fraudsters could then use this live audio feed to collect sensitive information from the device.
The devices is smaller than most of its other smart hubs, and is the first to include a circular screen as the company battles to take control of the home smart speaker market.
Amazon launched its first screen-carrying Echo – the Echo Show – in the UK at the end of last year, with the device able to display video news briefings as well as make video calls and show song lyrics.
The Echo Spot has similar functionality and has a series of clock faces available hinting at the device’s premier use case – as an Alexa powered alarm clock for your bedside table or elsewhere in the home.
First announced in September and then placed on-sale in the US at the end of 2017, the Spot can also be used to make video calls and as an intercom system with other Echo devices in the home.
It has second generation far-field technology with four microphones and enhanced noise cancellation. This means it can hear users from across the room – even if music is playing.
If users have more than one Echo, Alexa responds from the Echo that the user is closest to.
Like Echo Show, users can use the Spot to start a voice or video call or send a message to anyone with an Echo or the Alexa App—simply say, ‘Alexa, call dad,’ or ‘Alexa, send a message to Mary.’
Amazon’s Jorrit Van der Meulen said: ‘Echo Spot combines the popular small design of Echo Dot, the display of Echo Show, and the features you love about Alexa into a stylish and compact device.