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Gadgets

Amazon claims Echo Spot is all about togetherness, not spying

Commentary: In its first ad for the screen-adorned smart speaker, Amazon gets warm and fuzzy.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


All about togetherness?

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Have you already ordered your Apple HomePod?

Or does your heart hanker for a smart speaker with a camera and a screen that lets Amazon drop in to your life whenever it's, well, necessary?

With perfect timing, Amazon has just released its first-ever ad for the Echo Spot. And it jerks the tears from your eyes, one by one.

Grandma is left all alone. Her family has left. She's sad and lonely. Well, she does have a very nice cat.

Suddenly, a box arrives from Amazon. 

In it is an Echo Spot, the alarm-clock shaped device that my colleague Ry Crist found a touch disappointing in his review.

With the Echo Spot delivered to grandma, there's a card. "Alexa, Call Home," it reads. 

Grandma tries this and her family magically appears on the screen. 

They're all pleased to see her and it's clear that, from now on, everyone will live happily ever after.

It's a powerful tale, one that will surely resonate with families who live far apart from each other. Although some might mutter that whole families might not be so pleased to have grandma just drop in like that. They'll be far too busy staring into their personal devices.

Still, I can't quite get used to the intrusive element such gadgets bring with them.

Amazon insists that the Spot doesn't spy on you. 

It says it only streams the camera's feed during video calls and drop-ins -- the feature that allows permitted parties to intrude on others unannounced. (Those being dropped in upon have 10 seconds to reject your drop-in or put some clothes on.)

I find my natural mistrust doesn't quite embrace the company's promises. In this, however, I feel sure I'm in the minority.

People have given up on the notion of privacy, until their own is somehow seriously compromised. 

Which is why Amazon's message here is so tempting. "Be Together More," concludes the ad. 

Yes, but with whom am I really together?

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