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What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Amazon's Alexa Can Now Control Your Microwave - And Will Soon Expand To Conventional Ovens

By Cheyenne MacDonald, THE DAILY MAIL UK

January 5, 2018…

Amazon’s smart assistant can now add ‘cooking’ to its ever-expanding set of home skills.

The firm has revealed that Alexa users in the US can now control their microwave ovens with simple voice commands, by stating phrases such as: ‘Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken.’

While the functionality is limited to microwaves for now, Amazon says support for ‘other cooking devices,’ including conventional ovens, is on the way.

The new microwave functionality will first come to customers in the US, with other countries to follow.

Whirlpool has developed an Alexa skill for its connected microwaves, with plan to launch the service soon.

According to Amazon, Alexa users will be able to ask the smart assistant to set cook times, modes, and power levels, instead of relying on what the firm says can be a ‘confusing microwave experience.’

GE, Kenmore, LG, and Samsung are also working to integrate the cooking capabilities.

Amazon says there are four new capability interfaces in Alexa’s Smart Home Skill API – Alexa.Cooking, Alexa.Cooking.TimeController, Alexa.TimeHoldController, and Alexa.Cooking.PresetController. 

On social media, reactions to the latest capabilities have been mixed, with some users commenting sarcastically on the idea that the common household appliance is 'confusing.'

And, others are focusing on the potentially dangerous ways the new capability could go wrong. 

Amazon’s Alexa has steadily been building its skill set over the last few months.

Police are even exploring whether the devices could be used by owners to report crimes without ever leaving their couch.

The firm also revealed last month that Alexa is headed to the workplace.

The company said that Alexa is now programmed to handle a range of tedious office tasks.

Businesses can buy Alexa devices that help employees dial into conference calls, manage their calendars, find open meeting rooms and - not surprisingly - order work supplies from Amazon.

But, not everyone is convinced that Alexa’s growing reach is a good thing.

Patent applications from Amazon and Google revealed how their Alexa and Voice Assistant powered smart speakers are 'spying' on their owners.

In response, a recent report warns of an Orwellian future in which the gadgets eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits.

Future versions of gadgets like the Echo and Home will use this data to try and sell you products, it says.

The findings were published in a report created by Santa Monica, California based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.

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