Smart House Glitches

“Alexa, make tea. Now.” Wouldn’t it be great if we all had our own intelligent robot house assistants to deal with the boring chores of everyday life? “OK, Google, dim the lights.”

So-called “smart homes” offer varying degrees of automated assistance, and Google Home, launched this week in Australia, is multi-talented — it can speak with an Australian accent, translate phrases, do simple sums, get definitions, play music, and list news stories, among other skills.

Alexa, the tea-maker, is Amazon’s voice-controlled personal helper and she sometimes features in new-age homes. Sadly, it seems Alexa, being American, has had some trouble with Australian accents and occasionally stumbles. If you ask her to make tea she might play you a Beatles song.

That could be amusing, but many of the smart-home glitches surfacing now that the techno trend is accelerating are irritating at best and potentially dangerous.

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