Alexa ‘gets’ eyes on Echo Dot to remind user that she is listening | Speakers


A second-generation Echo Dot has been customized with two “eyes” to identify when Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, is active and listening to what is said. The accessory used was made on a 3D printer and has two OLED screens simulating a face. The result is a version of the smart speaker with human features, alerting the user in case of activation.

Remember that smart speakers can be activated by accident with some frequency, listening to the command words in speeches that have nothing to do with the subject, as well as in dialogues of films, series and TV programs.

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Alexa gets animated eyes in customized accessory – Photo: Reproduction / Markwtech

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As for the construction of the accessory, the base was made in white PLA, with two cavities where the OLED screens with the eyes are fitted. They are connected to a Teensy 3.0 board, which in turn joins a resistor and a photoresistor, which are used to detect when the Echo Dot lights are on. The set is powered by a USB port.

The eyes are programmed to be switched on and animated when the device is active, whether receiving commands or receiving notifications. The project was based on “Uncanny Eyes”, a set of OLED screens with images of eyes to be used in different types of creations with Teensy.

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The concern with creating mechanisms to show when the smart speaker is working is not just to avoid turning the device on unintentionally. In 2019, Amazon became involved in a controversy when it confirmed that some voice records remain stored on the device even if the user does a history cleaning. This would happen to allow him to identify activation words without having to connect to the server.

It is also worth remembering that, recently, a vulnerability was discovered in the service that would allow hackers to install skills without the user’s knowledge. Thus, it would be possible to access private account information, including voice records. According to Amazon, the fault has been resolved, and no related problems have been reported.


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