Do you think we need more access to Alexa the wireless virtual assistant? She's in millions of bedrooms and kitchens, now Amazon wants Alexa to join you everywhere you go and everywhere you are.
Amazon has sold over 100,000,000 Echos as of April, 2019. Echo often serves as the center for lots of smart homes and offices. They’re so called “smart” because there’s a central device (usually wireless) that connects and controls things like lights, the thermostat, the security system, ovens, dishwashers and the list goes on.
You know someone who loves their Echo- right? My Brother Loves Talking To Alexa, honestly it’s like a party game when we go over — “Alexa play Frank Sinatra”. It’s awesome and I’m not going to talk a lot of people out of connectivity, but honestly I shudder to think how many potentially embarrassing family conversations have been heard under the watchful ear of Alexa.
More Echo Things, Means More Impact On Our Collective Privacy, Wireless Radiation Exposure and Potential to Be Distracted
Amazon announced a whole new level of magical connectivity last week. The IOT or Internet of Things with all it’s wireless radiation, privacy questions and ability to keep us distracted and dis-engaged, is coming alive with Amazon Echo and Sidewalk.
They’ve developed all kinds of fun wireless wear-ables — glasses and rings and earbuds and even a nifty tracker — that encourage connection to Amazon 24/7. In case you realize that while you’re out dancing, you need dog food, I guess.
Plus they told us about a new wireless mesh network called Sidewalk, that promises through its own unique bandwidth on the spectrum, to blanket every street and city with Amazon’s coverage and plenty of RF radiation.
Dave Limp, Senior Vice President of Devices at Amazon, was clearly giddy with excitement as he rolled out one new product overview after another — all letting us have an even more intimate relationship with our bestie, Alexa.
More Echo Things Means Alexa Has More Opportunity To Listen
Echo glasses, Echo earbuds and the Echo loop — which is a ring you wear on your finger- all have microphones. Some have two. Dave Limp mentioned the dual directional microphones in the glasses are discreet. Hopefully you’ll remember that they are there when YOU want to be discreet. “Customers want more Echo’s everywhere.” said Dave.
Beware Those Sporting Amazon Frames, Rings and Buds. That Means Alexa Might Be Hearing You, Too.
All the Amazon devices are straight-up Alexa connections. And so Alexa will be hearing whatever YOU’RE hearing as you’re out and about. The conversation at the next table, details of your co-workers latest romps or even your spouse? Alexa is busting out of home confinement — and she can hear all.
But apparently, only when you ask her to. Alexa listens if she’s asked to listen. Amazon is quite sure of this and assures us that only when we speak the word “Alexa” (along with a short list of other “wake words”) will the listening and recording begin. Now I feel better.
If you’re an Alexa fan, you may think that instant access to your personal assistant is a grand idea. The glasses alone have 4, count ‘em-4, micro speakers so you can listen to Alexa. But remember, Amazon is the same company that, like Google and Facebook, hired 100’s of peopleto listen to recordings of what people said to the speaker, as well as things that the very sensitive microphones just happen to pick up.
Amazon’s Dave Limp said that there will be switches to turn off audio recording when you want to, plus Amazon now lets people delete voice recordings, even allowing them to be automatically deleted after 18 months. But don’t you wonder why they have to be saved at all? And for a year and a half? It’s also important to remember that Amazon is currently fighting lawsuits in Californiaand Seattleover recordings of children that have used it’s devices. This calls for a cautionary embrace of the new Amazon connections.
Taking Alexa On The Go Means Amazon Can GeoTrack You Too.
It’s starting innocuously enough with a tracking device for our pets. It’s called Fetch and the more you hear, the scarier it should be, because Amazon’s plan is to have those sensors and Amazon base station antennas in lots of places. Amazon announced,
“. . . creating a broad network among neighbors that can be used to extend connectivity all the way to your mailbox out at the street where a smart sensor lets you know exactly when your mail has been delivered, or to a water sensor that lets you know it’s time to water the garden in the backyard.”
Lots of tech writers, privacy and tech activists had lots to say with the announcement, Liz Sullivan tweeted this:
Amazon is building the infrastructure to monitor us all. It won’t be long before they package mesh routers into Ring devices to increase the footprint of access. What’s really sad is that they’ll profit from this, while the public eats it up as “just another cool gadget”.Amazon is pushing WiFi so you have to send all your traffic through their access points. W/e, no surprises there. But did you know they can track you even if you’re not logged onto their network?
The Combination of Base Stations and Sensors Means A New Big Mesh Network
Amazon’s Limp introduced the new wireless network that Amazon is deploying as Sidewalk. Sounds neighborly enough.
Sidewalk uses the 900 MHZ spectrum that back in March the FCC proposedre-configuring for private broadband and LTE use. and allows you to install a base station in your back yard that will be powerful enough to track your dog- but will also send signals to other Amazon base stations and devices and while doing so, emit wireless radiation.
Amazon’s is creating a mesh network using Sidewalk.
Here’s how it will work:
- You purchase a Sidewalk base station and install it in your backyard.
- Some of your neighbors do the same thing.
- The Sidewalk base stations can talk to each other and begin to extend the range of Fetch or other sensors(devices) until, pretty quickly, you’ve got a complete blanket of wireless coverage.
Getting Access to It’s Own Slice of the 900 MHZ Bandwidth Means Echo Owners Build Amazon’s Network
When AT&T or Verizon want to upgrade their networks, they spend billions of dollars to do it. Putting in new towers and repeaters at their own expense.
When Amazon wants to build out its wireless network, Customers buy it and install it! Is that so brilliant? Sure, you can track your dog, but Amazon has customers pay for all the infrastructure. Now to be clear, Amazon does not own the 900 MHZ bandwidth. Looks like a company called Anterixcontrols most if not all of it so I imagine Amazon will be working with them. They were pretty stoked when the FCC moved closer to allowing this section of the RF spectrum to be used for broadband, even thanking the FCC Chairman Pai and the Commissioners.
It’s interesting to note that when we have Amazon’s wall to wall coverage, most of us will be able to use it to not only purchase Gatorade while riding our bikes to work, but also use it to go online, and even make calls. In other words, everything that ATT charges for now!! If the big cellular companies aren’t a little bit freaked out about this, I’d be surprised.
Amazon’s New Network and New Devices and Sensors Means Even More EMF Radiation In Our Environment
Whether it’s from Amazon, Apple, Samsung, a Tech-com or a Telecom, each and every wireless item added to our environment means our bodies have to deal with more exposure. Amazon put it this way on their announcement site:
As we got to building this idea of this network, we learned that, with just a few access points, very broad coverage becomes available. We went to Ring HQ to test a few devices . . . We sent 700 devices out to employees, friends and family and 3 weeks later we had the LA Basin-the second largest in the county completely covered in 3 weeks. Because it has such good overlap and range, you get great coverage”.
Wireless Mesh Networks are basically just wireless devices talking to each other or devices that boost signals offering more coverage via an invisible signal omitting EMF radiation.
SuperPower! See and Hear Invisible EMF Radiation. Protect Your Home With This Wireless Energy Detector
It’s a network of Radio Frequency(RF) devices that talk to each other. Smart Meters for example transfer readings from one home to the next and eventually link to the utility’s central office.
Amazon certainly didn’t start it- Google Home, Google Wi-Fi and Google On HUB all mesh and network with each other, it’s just bringing more. Lots more.
And it’s important to note that all this new blanket of mesh radiation isn’t even the 5G talk that has lots of people concerned. This is simply more hubs, base stations and antennas that will send more and more wireless radiation all around you.
Is RF Radiation a bad thing?
Well, there are many studies that say getting too much of it can be bad for our health.
I know for sure that it messes with my body’s energy, just like many other toxins — say smoke or smog or chemicals from pesticides on my food. Wireless energy has been linked to symptoms, there’s one interesting study that a retired colonel did determining symptoms before and after Smart Meters (powered by RF radiation) were installed.
As Joel Moskowitz, a well known Berkeley professor noted, there are over 2,000 peer reviewed studies that show links between RF radiation exposure and health issues. You can find them all through SafeEmr,I have many listed in the research section of Tech Wellness
If you want to know more and see the latest national and international studies, here’s a regularly updated guide.
Meanwhile, even Amazon Points Out That We Shouldn’t Get Too Close to It’s Echo devices — with all their radiation and such.
Amazon’s Echo Safety Information advises that we stay 20 cm away.
That’s 8 inches. Amazon says to stay a minimumof 8 inches away from the Echo. They call it the “radiator.”
I hope you’ll tell your kids. It really is important.
The Environmental health Trust issued an alert last year urging parents to be much more mindful of kids getting close to all the virtual assistants, Google Home, Echos and Apple Pod.
The Allure of Alexa On Fingers, Our Heads and In our Ears Means More Distraction From Real Life.
Living a Disconnected and Distracted Life, Just Got Easier.
Let’s Tech Wellness time out and consider Don Limp’s words as he explained the Amazon Echo glasses called Frames which, as he pointed out, have no screen or camera, just 4 directional speakers and very discreet directional microphones that let you hear what’s going on, but not the world around you.
“Echo frames allow you to get done more around you and be more present in your everyday” he announced.
Amazon says it wants us to focus on our everyday. Really?
Research, and watching 90% of people out at dinner, tells us that simply the mere presence of our cellphones, actually effects our cognition. Those who are more dependent on their devices suffer the greatest amount of Brain Drain. Research has also been clear that our kids do better on tests when they don’t bring their phones to school. You can read about it here.
We are distracted by our devices. We can’t focus on whatever glorious moment we’re in if we’re on our phones or talking to Alexa in our glasses.
More Alexa Means More Opportunity To Not Think and To Not Learn
A ring, earbuds, glasses all designed to keep you and Alexa, tight.
Alexa can do 1,000’s of “skills” from translating language to telling you the answer to complex problems. I don’t have one, but I bet she could also tell me the best selling shampoo on Amazon. Alexa knows alot and has entire teams dedicated to making her smarter, so we don’t have to be.
And according to Manfred Spitzer who wrote a book and coined Digital Dementia(yeah, it’s a real thing) part of the reason we’re getting dementia is because we’re not truly learning as we should.
Dr. Spitzer says digital dementia comes from an overuse of digital technology resulting in the breakdown of cognitiveabilities. Spitzerproposes that short-term memory pathways start to deteriorate from under-use if we overuse technology. True learning, he says comes from a process of critical thinking. We don’t actually think when we’re Googling an answer or asking Alexa.
More Amazon Echo Things May Mean More Sales For Amazon.
I hear people getting nervous that Amazon is getting too big, too powerful.
According to a 2106 report from Business Insider, when you own an Echo, you spend more money on Amazon.
Amazon Echo owners spend more money. Owners of an Amazon Echo device spend about 10% more on Amazon than they did before they had the device.
They also shop more frequently. Echo owners purchase from Amazon 6% more often than they did before.
So wearing an Echo ring or Frame glasses should make it easier or more likely that there will be even more Echo owners purchasing from Amazon and buying more than they did before. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless of course you’re a mom and pop shop or any other retailer or brand that’s trying to offer a better or different shopping and buying experience. Go Competition.
Techwellness.com is a solutions based site, so I can’t end this observational look at the future with more Echo-ness without offering solutions for those who might be concerned about privacy, distraction or more toxic EMF radiation.
Amazon, Alexa, Echo-Everything, The New Mesh Network- Privacy Concerns, RF Radiation Concerns, If You’re Bothered By Any Of It or All Of It.
YOU CAN DO MORE BY JUST NOT BUYING IN
For the motion sensors, lights, security systems, cameras, glasses, rings or earbuds, to work well, they all need to work together.
- Privacy: If you’re not super-keen on what you’re saying being recorded or your communication hacked, don’t buy an Echo or any other type of virtual assistant.
- EMF Protection: If you want to have just one less source of wireless radiation exposure, stay away from any Echo product and any wireless device that could serve you just as well if it was wired. Meanwhile be mindful of your radiation intake, consider an accurate easy to understand RF radiation meter.
- Distraction and Disconnection: If you cherish real connection and don’t want you or your loved ones embracing another distracting device- then for sure, no Echo earbuds, Frames or a ring you hold up to your mouth to talk to an AI powered machine. If you happen to end up at a meeting or on a date with someone wearing one of the Echo items, think of them just like any other smart device-if you’re not into the EMF, the distraction or the privacy risks, ask that they be removed, turned off or put away.(Tell me how that goes)
Finally, if you have Alexa or Google Home or any personal assistant now and you’re feeling any sense of brain fog or other digital dementia symptom, our Review of digital dementia a has lovely list of 11 antidotes to fight brain fog and sharpen your cognition skills.