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Amazon’s new rotating rear camera is useful and intrusive

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I had high hopes for the paparazzi on my kitchen counter.

The Covid-19 Zoom boom has turned us into camera operators. It is a daily struggle to make sure that everyone in the field of vision is trembling. Coming together is Amazon’s new Echo Show 10, a desk իչ computer that tries to catch up with you! Rotating around the motor, it does its best to keep your body back, so you can always be in the picture, given its 10.1-inch screen.

I spend so much time on video calls, I was tempted to blow on that $ 250 robot Alexas. But after testing the test unit for a few days, I will not buy it. While it was useful for moving video chats, the Echo Show underperformed the features I would have liked from a device that took up valuable computing space.

And since it “passively listens and watches”, “Echo Show” needs a more thoughtful approach to privacy. One of its new commands is literally, “Alexa, stop following me.” And Amazon has added optical control to the device, which, at least for me, crosses the line from innovative to invasive.

Amazon CEO f CEO ff Bezos is owned by The Washington Post, but I’re critical of all technology.

Echo devices are commonly known as Alexa smart speakers, but in 2017, Amazon began adding camera screens in a series called the Echo Show. This type of desktop computer, also known as smart screens, has become a hallway in the electronics store. Options include Google’s Nest Hub Max, which uses face recognition to determine which family member is in front of it, and Facebook’s Portal, which offers its more limited ability to track faces during calls.

The camera that comes with you can certainly be scary, but it is very useful if it controls people. I even heard from a pregnant woman who wanted to communicate with her dola through the Facebook portal while giving birth under a cocktail quarantine.

The Echo stands out from the crowd as its camera and screen move physically. When I call. “Alexa, Skype video calls Rachel,” it turns to attention. And as we talk, the Echo Show works behind the scenes to spin me up, 360 degrees. (It can not be rotated in complete circles, in the style of “Exorcist”.

Following the Echo Show was helpful when it worked. It was with me 80 percent of the time as I walked around my kitchen cooking and chatting, which was a great success for the new technology.

But sometimes it lost the investigation of where I was standing, or cut off the top of my head. And the Echo Show was not fast enough to keep up with a couple of kids who helped me experiment by playing hide-and-seek. I found it not wise to turn around 180 degrees to catch someone who started talking behind it.

Amazon says bright or dark lights can throw off Show’s identity detection software,, it tries to focus on the action center without too much fuss, which at the other end of the call may seem absurd.

The calling capabilities of Echo Show 10 have one unpleasant limitation. It currently works with Alexa’s native video calling service (requires the other user to have an Amazon device or Alexa app) and Microsoft Skype. Enlargement support is expected soon, but Amazon will not be specific.

These camera challenges could be more forgivable if the Echo Show were more like an iPad, the computer that most often sits on my kitchen counter, running the autonomous machine. But the Echo Show just isn’t doing enough to earn its hold.

Even after several years of development for Echo Show devices, Alexa is still primarily an audio interface. There are no apps like iPad. Of course, the sound has its advantages when your fingers are covered with cookie dough or you want to turn on the smart lights quickly. But other things I can do with my iPad with three clicks require juvenile chat with Alexa on the Echo Show. (Amazon will not say how many Alexa touch screen skills there are.)

And unlike the iPad, the Echo Show really can’t replace a kitchen TV. Its streaming video options are far fewer than you can even watch on Amazon’s own Fire TVs, especially for live TV, such as local news.

My privacy issues with the Echo Show are related to Amazon’s devilish care approach: putting more cameras in our homes.

Amazon has taken a few steps that I welcome. The Echo Show microphone disconnect switch physically covers the device camera. Amazon also says that to track your body, the Echo Show data is all localized on the device. This means that images are never sent to Amazon, although certain features that require you to know if someone is close to the device, such as a video call feature called Drop In, transfer the presence to Amazon.

But there are other new concerns. By default, the camera-enabled motion feature is on, the և Echo Show will follow you when you interact with it outside of video calls. To stop at this point you say: “Alexa, stop following me.” Only that phrase should have given Amazon a break that was needed to build our trust in this feature.

If you scroll through the settings, you can find the option to turn off the motion or restrict the “select actions”. But there is no way back only during video calls.

Amazon has also added new camera features to the Echo Show that may appeal to some but be terrifying to others.

An optical control function called Live View turns the Echo Show 10 into a rotating security camera. On the phone, one of the members of the house can see remotely from the Alexa application through the camera, which continues to track who is close. On the other hand, this is like installing a fast dome security camera in your kitchen.

When Live View is activated, the Echo Show generates a beep ծան a notification appears on the screen, but this video stream has only one path. You can tap a button on the screen to stop live viewing or close the camera lens if you notice this happening.

Amazon should not accidentally add control features to home appliances that are primarily intended for other purposes. How would you feel if you were a teenager knowing that your parents could communicate with you at any time? Or what to do if you were in a violent relationship և your partner could do the same.

Echo Show 10 has your look և it should always be just for you.

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