Amazon reveals frightening, all-knowing microphone-speaker called Echo: People question company's motives

Amazon has presented a new smart home device, a wireless Bluetooth microphone-speaker, called Echo.

Within this tubelike speaker, the company has built in a whole computer that's similar to Google Now or Siri in the way that it works.

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Basically, it's an assistant that's always connected to the web, which is capable of offering answers and fresh information, as well as playing music, helping with everyday activities, and most importantly – making shopping lists.

The machine is voice-controlled, and has a microphone that can allegedly hear you speak, regardless of wherever in the room you may be, but even though it's always on, a wake-up word (that word is 'Alexa' in Amazon's promotional video) is required in order for Echo to receive commands.

Echo can also be controlled via smartphone.

The microphone will be available in stores "soon", for the cost of $199 (£126). Amazon Prime subscribers will have a 50 per cent discount, meaning they can purchase Echo for around £63.

The announcement has raised fears, mostly because always-on, all-hearing, Internet-connected devices sound pretty frightening, but also because many people believe its real purpose could be somewhat different.

Even though Echo is advertised as a machine designed to organise everyday activities, give answers to simple questions by drawing data from Wikipedia, set up alarms and reminders, some have claimed that it is actually intended as a shopping assistant.

Read more: Can BlackBerry produce a genuine rival to Siri and Cortana?

"One-click purchase becomes no-click purchase", wrote Greg Kumparak in an article posted on TechCrunch.

With Amazon being omnipresent without even the need to reach for your smartphone, anything within earshot of Echo could very easily become an impulse buy.