Amazon and third parties use your Echo’s voice data to serve you targeted ads on its own platforms and the internet. A report from researchers from the University of Washington, UC Davis, UC Irvine and Northeastern University has concluded that your Echo voice data is being shared with as many as 41 advertising partners.
The data is collected from user interactions with Alexa using Echo devices and is then used to deduce user interests and serve ads on the platform, that is, Amazon’s Echo devices and the wider internet. The report also states that this kind of data is in quite the demand these days, with bids going as high as 30 times from advertisers.
In a statement to The Verge, Amazon defended its data usage by saying that the report is flawed and is based on “inaccurate references or speculation by the authors”. While the company does use Echo data to serve targeted ads, it claims that it doesn’t share Alexa requests with advertising partners or networks.
Your echoes are being heard
The 10 researchers working on the report created a framework to measure this data collection, followed by several personas meant to interact with Alexa devices and use third-party skills. Each persona had specific interests, including smart homes, pets, dating, beverages, health, dating, fashion, connected car and spirituality.
According to a statistical analysis of the results, each persona was served with targeted ads later on the internet, hence proving that smart speaker interactions are, in fact, used for ad targeting on the web and in audio ads.
The report states that only processed transcripts are shared with these advertisers instead of raw audio data, which seems to be in line with what Amazon reports.
Fire TV launches hearing aid support
In other news, Amazon’s second-generation Fire TV Cube has now announced support for audio streaming on compatible hearing aids. Users with compatible Starkey Bluetooth hearing aids will be able to connect to the Fire TV Cube for private listening directly and use the remote volume controls to control audio levels.
Since these aids connect to the Fire TV on a system level, audio can be streamed from just about any streaming service, app, game or even Alexa. The pairing will work through the Fire TV’s accessibility menu, and the experience will be much like pairing regular Bluetooth earphones or headphones.
Customers are recommended to use 5GHz WiFi networks and stay within 10 feet and in line of sight of their Fire TV Cubes for the optimal experience. 2.4GHz networks will work fine, too, with range varying based on spectrum congestion. The company also aims to bring ASHA support to more devices as they evolve the functionality over time.
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