00:47 - Source: HLN
Girl uses Amazon Echo to order huge doll house
CNN  — 

More and more, the devices in your home are listening to you, your friends and family.

It sounds Orwellian. It’s billed as convenient.

As the Internet of Things proliferates, it creates a world in which everyday devices are interconnected via a web of sensors, apps, software and Wi-Fi. That means you can lower your thermostat on the drive home while your refrigerator orders a dozen eggs after sensing the supply is low.

Your hackable home

Devices with various types of voice technology are also becoming more common. With a simple hands-free utterance, an Amazon- or Google-run personal assistant can stream your favorite Gap Band playlist or find a solid recipe for macaroons. But it also raises concerns about privacy – not just hacking but also how companies protect your data.

Anchor activates Alexa through airwaves.

Some of the devices must be powered on manually, but others are always listening for commands or “wake words” that spur the machine into action.

Already, groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Law and Information Policy have sought to address the concerns inherent in some of these devices.

In recent weeks, we’ve also seen stories about a newscaster’s on-air report activating an Amazon Echo and an Arkansas prosecutor issuing a search warrant to see if a suspect’s Echo contains evidence in a murder case.

So, what devices are listening? And why? Here’s a quick rundown of some popular contraptions, along with links to their privacy policies, so you can see what the parent companies can and can’t do with the data they collect.

Home speaker/personal assistant

00:56 - Source: HLN
Amazon Echo could help in murder case

Chopping onions when the urge to hear some tunes or learn the capital of Luxembourg strikes? No worries. A new line of personal assistants is there to help with everyday queries. The devices are increasingly interconnecting with other devices, too, so simple tasks such as turning on the living room lights or locking the front door are even easier.

Examples: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Ivee, Homey, Cubic

Eight tricks to try with your Amazon Echo

Battle of the smart speakers

Phones, tablets, laptops

01:50 - Source: CNNMoney
Happy 10th birthday, iPhone

Preceding the advent of home speakers that double as personal assistants was software that turned your online devices into handy little helpers. Rather than pecking out texts and Internet searches on a tiny keyboard, this type of software allows you to request a variety of information and functions from your phone, from thoughtful to frivolous.

Examples: Apple’s Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Motorola X (and Moto Hint)

Smart TVs

01:34 - Source: HLN
Samsung tweaks policy after eavesdropping freak out

sFar from the “idiot boxes” that millennials and their predecessors grew up with, today’s Internet-enabled smart TVs provide a host of functions that allow users to stream Netflix or update Facebook on the same screen they use to watch CNN’s “The Situation Room.” Many of these televisions are equipped to field voice commands.

Examples: LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Vizio

Is your TV listening?

California lays down law on eavesdropping TVs


01:28 - Source: CNNMoney
Say 'Hello' to Barbie's high-tech Dreamhouse

Talking toys are nothing new, but today’s iterations are far more advanced than the pull-string Chatty Cathy or even the animatronic Teddy Ruxpin. Makers of modern interactive dolls and robots say the toys can now empathize and carry on a conversation with children.

Examples: Hello Barbie, My Friend Cayla, I-Que Intelligent Robot

Are these dolls spying on your kids?

Talking Barbie too creepy for some parents


01:05 - Source: CNNMoney
Amazon Echo is coming to Ford cars

Why should interconnectivity be limited to the home? Ever since the Knight Industries Two Thousand, folks have dreamed of an interactive car. While today’s version won’t have a turbo boost button, it will integrate communications, entertainment and navigation, all with a simple voice command.

Examples: Dragon Drive, Ford Sync, Fiat’s Blue & Me, Lexus Voice Command, Chrysler Uconnect, GM IntelliLink

Do you need onboard GPS if you have a phone?

Coolest products from CES 2017


05:17 - Source: CNN
The future of video gaming

Advances in video games seem to move faster than Sonic the Hedgehog, so it’s no surprise console manufacturers are increasingly incorporating voice commands into their systems. Right now, the commands are relatively basic. But considering some games allow you to use your body as a joystick, there’s no telling where this technology will be in a few years.

Examples: Kinect for Xbox One, Sony PlayStation

Can Xbox play nice with PlayStation?


00:57 - Source: CNNMoney
Luxury watches get smarter

Some of these timepieces are simply extensions of your phone, allowing you to chat or text with friends by speaking into the device on your wrist. Others are more autonomous and allow you to record audio, keep up with your fitness goals or connect with an electronic personal assistant.

Examples: Dial, CoWatch, Kapture, Fitbit, Apple Watch

Are smartwatches still cool?

Smartwatch is powered by body heat

Home security

00:56 - Source: HLN
Couple watch as men rob their house

This shouldn’t be a surprise. For any home security system to be effective, it needs to pick up sound. Some of these devices actually detect changes in sound, while others allow for two-way communications. At least one comes equipped with facial recognition and the ability to detect various alarms.

Examples: Nest Cam, Canary Connect, Netatmo Welcome, Blink

Tricking out your house with tech

Nest Cam goes outdoors

Kansas City couple watches as burglars rob their home

Baby monitors

01:52 - Source: Kathryn Whitt
Toddler caught praying on baby monitor

Like home security systems, you need audio capability on a baby monitor. How else would you hear your precious little tyke calling out for Elmo? But many baby monitors are taking it to the next level, monitoring a child’s breathing and other vital signs to provide parents with critical knowledge of their youngster’s well-being.

Examples: Evoz, Owlet, Sproutling, Mimo

Is this the future of parenting?

Couple says baby monitor was hacked