Amazon.com Inc., whose home and surveillance devices have drawn criticism from privacy advocates, has considered developing an Alexa-powered wearable device for children.
The GPS-equipped device would be geared toward kids aged 4 to 12 and could take the form of a wristband, keychain, or clip. The voice-activated wearable would provide access to Amazon’s children-focused content and let parents communicate with and monitor their kids.
The company has sought to develop various Alexa-enabled products targeting children. A wearable Disney gadget codenamed the Magic Band is scheduled to arrive this year. It’s unclear whether it’s a toy or is associated with the guest-tracking Magic wristband Walt Disney Co. has deployed in its parks and hotels.
Amazon had also planned to release an Alexa-powered karaoke microphone dubbed Jackson on Prime Day, but no such device was forthcoming during the two-day annual sale last month.
A child-oriented device would mark an expansion of Amazon’s ambitions in consumer hardware. Last year, the company released a fitness band called Halo to track physical activity, sleep, body fat, and the wearer’s mood. The company has also been working on a home robot.
The complaint also said the company retained recordings from the devices indefinitely unless a parent explicitly requested they be deleted and said the process for reviewing what information the devices collected was burdensome. Several U.S. senators also called on the FTC to investigate whether Amazon had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act with the device. Amazon said at the time that it was compliant with the law and on its corporate website lays out the steps it has taken to protect the privacy of FreeTime subscribers.
In the fall of 2019, Amazon unveiled new privacy tools, including an opt-in feature that lets users automatically delete their Alexa recordings periodically. The privacy enhancements report that thousands of Amazon workers worldwide were reviewing audio clips collected by Alexa devices to improve their responses to commands.
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