In 1999, Disney Channel released Smart House, a movie about a family whose house is controlled by a virtual assistant named PAT.
It appears Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saw this film.
The former CEO and his protege, Andy Jassy, have spent the last decade buying and building their way toward the smart home of the future:
- 2013 — Acquired Ivona Software, a voice recognition startup
- 2014 — Launched the Echo smart speaker powered by Alexa, a voice assistant largely based on Ivona Software
- 2017 — Acquired Blink, a smart security camera startup
- 2018 — Acquired Ring, the smart doorbell startup
- 2021 — Launched Astro, a household robot that, among other things, can follow a person from room to room
- 2022 — Announced it will acquire iRobot, maker of the Roomba smart vacuum
Amazon has taken heat for data collection, and the prospect of adding Roomba, which collects troves of data to map users’ homes, is only adding to the scrutiny.
In Smart House, PAT goes rogue and turns on her human owners. At least Alexa hasn’t done that… yet.
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