In just the last week, Facebook and Google have announced new smart speakers with video screens. And Amazon is bent on putting Alexa in everything. On the one hand, people seem to want these doohickeys. Research firm Canalys says global smart speaker sales grew 187 percent in the second quarter of this year. On the other hand, an always-on, always-connected listening device in the home really freaks out some folks. We dig into this in Quality Assurance, the segment where we take a deeper look at a big tech story. Molly Wood talked with Tom Merritt, host of the podcast Daily Tech News Show. He said before you decide whether to worry about smart speakers, you should know what you're worried about. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Tom Merritt: It's kind of the new "the CIA is listening into my telephone." We all had mics in our house with telephones a long time ago and there were misperceptions about what could actually be done, or even if it could be done, how often it was done. It's pretty well audited that these things are only listening for the "wake" word and not sending things to the cloud. I think there's a lot of worry about the wrong things with the smart speakers. You should be aware of what it is collecting. But on the other hand, I don't think that you need to worry that it's constantly spying on you.