Amazon has announced a special new version of Alexa for the hotel industry, giving guests and travellers the ability to interact with the company's smart speakers directly from their hotel room.
'Alexa for Hospitality' is kicking off in major chains like Marriott and Westin, where in-room Amazon Echos will enable guests to do things like ask Alexa for hotel information, contact the lobby, play music in their room, and maybe even order room service.
While it's no doubt a nifty level-up perk over using an old landline phone to get in touch with hotel services, some people will probably feel a little bit funny about having an always-on smart speaker constantly listening to them in the supposedly private sanctuary of their hotel room.
Just last month, an Alexa bug made headlines around the world when – in a ridiculously improbable series of events – an Amazon Echo surreptitiously recorded a private conversation between a man and a woman in Portland and sent the audio recording to one of the man's contacts.
Amazon explained the device must have misinterpreted fragments of their conversation as a series of voice commands instructing the Echo to do that very thing, but while that may be plausible (maybe), it highlights just how wrong things can go when we let devices like this eavesdrop on every single thing we say.
Not to mention that in Alexa for Hospitality, it won't even be your own personal Echo potentially spying on you, but a device owned and controlled by massive hotel corporations (to say nothing of how an ever bigger behemoth, Amazon itself, ultimately pulls the gadget's strings).
Definitely something to think about next time you check in to your neatly made-up hotel room and find a shiny Echo perched on the bedside table. You might want to check where that off switch might be.
Still, we have to admit, ordering hotel room service by just asking Alexa sounds pretty damn cool.
/Beyond is ScienceAlert's new section covering the wider world of gadgets, games, and digital culture.