Alexa's Voyeurism Went Too Far

We have four Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers in our house, all bought a few years ago on some sort of special offer for £15-£20 each.

I’ve had enough of them.

We use them primarily for two reasons:

  1. Music / radio, mainly in the kitchen.
  2. Controlling lights in the lounge, garden and office

They've been emitting the occasional advert notification for things I might like to buy on Amazon for while, which has been mildly annoying. But recently they've taken a creepy turn.

I switched my printer on the other day (a rare occurrence) and a few minutes later all the Echos in the house piped up telling me to “say yes” and it would add ink for my printer to my Amazon basket. Why is it spying on my printer?

Then a few days afterwards it told me that the battery was running low in a sensor in my house. What else is it spying on?

No thank you Amazon, I really don’t want you prying into things in my home.

I'm removing all the Echos. Two are already unplugged.

What About Lights?

Most of my Hue lights operate on sensors (toilets and hallways) so that's not really a problem.

The lounge lamps are currently only voice activated, so I might just put regular bulbs back in them. Suprisingly, the voice recognition has trouble recognising the difference between "on" and "off" and only works about 75% of the time, so this may prove less frustrating.

I'm looking at cheap Zigbee buttons for the office and garden lights.

Music & Radio

I've also been looking at smart speakers but have been put off by both the cost (considerably more than my £15-£20 Echos) and the likelihood that they'll stop being supported long before the hardware actually stops working. E.g. I have a fantastic non-smart LG TV I bought in 2008 that's still going strong, and some Sony ex-demo speakers / surround sound system that I bought in 2006 that still works brilliantly. There's no way any company will still provide security updates for internet connected speakers 18 years later.

My plan is to turn some Raspberry Pis into the smart bit - Spotify Connect / AirPlay / DLNA type things (not sure yet exactly). In the kitchen, rather than buy anything new, I'll plug a Pi into a secondhand mini HiFi from a local charity shop that I haven't bought yet. And in the lounge I'll plug my existing TV Pi into my existing speakers.

Farewell Alexa, you will not be missed.