Saftety controversies arise surrounding smart home technology

Saftety controversies arise surrounding smart home technology

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For the past decade, developments in technology have recreated daily life. One of the significant changes in the world’s private home lives has been the emergence of smart home technology. Both the Google Home and Amazon Alexa have made their way into the homes of people all across the globe.

Many common home appliances such as doorbells, washing machines, refrigerators and dishwashers have gone smart as well. Consumers now have the ability to control their homes from their smartphones, turning the lights on before they come home or starting a load of dishes before a dinner party that night. As unsettling as some may see it, homes can now, essentially, run themselves.

“I personally think they’re useless,” said Liam Waikem, a sophomore. “They just take away from responsibilities that we have.”

New software and technology companies have become more mainstream in the past five years. For example, Ring, Wink, and Arlo have all gained more media and retail traction. Most smart home technology can now be purchased in local appliance stores. Larger companies, such as Apple and Samsung, have produced their own lines of smart technology that immediately gained public attention.

Controversies surrounding smart home technology have only grown with each new release, many larger producers facing severe backlash to their products that have caused many consumers to question how safe these systems truly are to their owners.

Elizabeth Matutue
Hey, Alexa?: The Echo Dot is a common household item. With its rising popularity over the past few years, its become more and more prominent across the globe. “I keep mine on my nightstand in my room,” stated Matute.

Since the debut of Amazon’s Alexa,  controversies regarding the technology have risen. There have been several reports of people’s systems being hacked from the outside and others being concerned with Alexa’s ability to listen in on conversations.

Amazon has confirmed that all of the conversations held around the device are recorded and stored by the company. People have since become wary of the companies’ other devices, such as the Echo Dot or other Amazon devices affiliated with Alexa.

“I have my own Alexa at home,” stated Elizabeth Matute, a junior. “I’ve heard about these cases before, but I personally have never had a bad experience.”

The incidents involving Alexa have shone a new light on other devices, such as home security cameras, another piece of technology that has become prominent in homes outside of gated communities.

Most security cameras available to the public have technology similar to Alexa’s voice monitoring, as well as the remarkably excellent video quality for devices running 24/7. Those same functions can often be concealed from the person who is in the same room as the camera. In other words, it can be quite challenging to know if the camera is genuinely on or if it is recording.

While security systems and virtual assistants have all gained a fair amount of media attention, many consumers have yet to report any safety issues regarding home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines all fitted with smart technology.

“We’ve also got one of the Samsung washing machines.” Matute continued. “Sometimes it will go off when I’m home alone, but it’s supposed to do that. Its all automatic now.”

Of course, technology improves itself each day. Discoveries are being made and systems are continually advancing. These incidents have not proven themselves to be persuasive enough to cause others to stop buying from smart technology companies, nor enough to convince consumers to rid themselves of all of these newfound appliances.