A US TV station has been inundated with complaints after viewers’ voice-commanded Amazon Echo systems "heard" a presenter’s remarks about doll houses – and started ordering them.
Using the device’s voice command assistant, which is called Alexa, a six-year-old girl in Dallas, Texas, managed to order a $160 (£130) doll house and a tin of biscuits.
That sparked a news report on CW6 in San Diego, California, after which presenter Jim Patton said: I love the little girl saying ‘Alexa order me a doll house’.
According to the TV station, the broadcast on Thursday sparked complaints from viewers all over San Diego who said Mr Patton’s words had been interpreted by their Amazon Echo devices as a command to buy more doll houses.
Amazon has said any accidental purchases can be returned for free.
Users have also been advised a four-digit security code can be added to the Echo to stop unauthorised orders.
This option has now been taken up by the parents of the girl in Dallas, who had asked her mother’s device: Can you play doll house with me and get me a doll house?
Stephen Cobb, a researcher for IT security firm ESET, said the incident revealed the shortfalls of voice-commanded gadgets.
All of these devices which record the internet of things will have some sort of website control, some sort of setting, sometimes the setting is on the device that is communicating, he told CW6 San Diego.
Down the road the technology will be more sophisticated where it will be able to identify certain individuals and register people [who] can access it.
At last week’s CES tech show in Las Vegas, Ford, Huawei and Inrix were among a number of firms that revealed they have integrated Alexa into their new products.
LG said the voice command assistant would allow customers to talk to its smart fridge, to find out what food is on its shelves and to order items.
(c) Sky News 2017: Amazon Echo orders doll houses after ‘hearing’ TV presenter talking