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TechCrunch has a story about as new report issued by researchers at the University of London in the UK, saying that the government there ought to institute “new privacy measures to safeguard kids and make sure age appropriate design code is included with home automation technologies.”

The recommendation reflects concerns raised in the report “about how in-home smart devices such as AI virtual voice assistants, smart appliances, and security and monitoring technologies could be gathering and sharing children’s data.”

The author of the report, Dr Veronica Barassi, “wants the UK’s data protection agency to launch a review of what she terms ‘home life data’ — meaning the information harvested by smart in-home devices that can end up messily mixing adult data with kids’ information - to consider its impact on children’s privacy, and ‘put this concept at the heart of future debates about children’s data protection’.”

• Earlier this week we reported on Amazon’s plan to add to its Alexa ecosystem by releasing at least eight new voice-controlled devices in time for the end-of-year holiday shopping season, including a microwave oven, a wall clock, an amplifier, a receiver, a subwoofer, and an in-car gadget. All can be controlled via the Alexa system, and some will have Alexa built into them.

In addition, Amazon yesterday announced a new series of Echo devices, including some new versions of existing devices, designed to offer improved sound quality and accessibility.

The goal, the Seattle Times writes, is “to make its voice-activated interface an essential tool at the center of modern consumer electronics,” with greater appeal to audiophiles.

The Times goes on: “A hallmark of the company’s devices push, analysts say, has been its relatively low prices, a classic Amazon bet that getting more devices into people’s hands now will pay dividends in the strength of the Alexa ecosystem down the line.

“The company also extended its efforts to offer its software’s capabilities as building blocks to other companies.

“New or updated tool kits were announced for makers of streaming services, smart televisions and home-security systems to link their products to Alexa. Skype, the voice and video chat service owned by Microsoft, will be the first partner to use a new protocol to integrate communications software.”
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