Sarah Huckabee Sanders exposes flaw in Amazons Alexa voice shopping
"Alexa, we have a problem," Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted. AP/Alex Brandon
- White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that her 2-year-old ordered a Batman toy through 's Alexa voice-shopping platform.
- Sanders said her kid did it by "yelling 'Batman!' over and over again into the Echo."
- This anecdote shows that the ease of voice shopping cuts both ways for customers interested in convenience.
Ordering items on Amazon from an Alexa-enabled device — so easy, a child could do it.
It turns out that ease of use might be a little bit of an issue. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted on Sunday that her 2-year old kid was able to order a toy from the device just by shouting "Batman!" at it.
"Alexa, we have a problem," she tweeted.
Amazon has attempted to lessen the friction for customers by making voice ordering super easy — maybe too easy. Alexa probably isn't going to accept or recognize a command as simple as "Batman!" immediately without a follow-up check, but it's easy to see a circumstance where the device gets confused in a loud room with a lot of people talking.
Taking Sanders' account as accurate, this is a concern for Amazon as it gets more of its Alexa-enabled devices in homes. If the voice-shopping features are justtooeasy to use — or too easily fooled — Echo owners might turn off the feature altogether and write it off as more trouble than it's worth.
Voice shopping is built for convenience, but an accidental order requires a lot more work, as customers will either have to ship the item back or reach out to the company to cancel it.
Amazon does have safeguards against these kinds of accidental rogue orders. The app allows users to establish only certain voices as those that are enabled to purchase with their voice, or prompt select voices to give a specific four-digit code each time. This makes the whole process a bit less seamless, but can be a necessity for certain households — especially ones with kids that love to ask Alexa to play the "Frozen" soundtrack.
As with any new platform, voice shopping has its kinks to work out.
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