The way that materiality is now conceptualised transcends the homogenisation of space and time in the notion that information can be accessed immediately. We can now instead of asking our parents a stupid question, ask the cloud of which can access whatever you would like to know at the click of your fingers. Scary huh.
The somewhat recent launch of Amazon Echo as a family aimed device used for playing music, asking questions, setting alarms/timers, making lists and much more, provides us with an example of a static object, transgressing the boarders traditionally assigned to it.
At the core the Echo is a cylinder that can talk, however, it is able to search the web using ‘The Cloud’ which aggregates information. While the majority of communication done by this technology is ‘M2M’, the fact that humans can ask questions to it allows the product to become tangibly social.
The notion of ‘The Internet of Things’ plays a predominant role in the product and technology of the Amazon Echo. This can be conveyed through:
- The Amazon Echo being able to register changes to the environment around it, having the sensory capacity to identify a human voice and command. (Also having the ability to tell the temperature, what time it is, etc).
- Is able to keep a list of your favourite songs in a playlist as well as process information [local/cloud], as well as independently initiate actions which humans would like such as setting an alarm or writing a shopping list [actuation].
- Echo can be remotely located by using various applications.
- Has semantic interface for humans, being the fact that it can hear voices from anywhere in a house from any room.
When it is not only “us” but also our “things” that can upload, download, disseminate and stream meaningful and meaning-making stuff, how does the way in which we occupy the physical world become different?’ ~Julian Bleecker
When objects such as the Amazon Echo acquire network connectivity, storage and computation they immediately transgress the borders assigned to them. It immediately becomes permitted as the past of passive, mute materiality becomes active and gains a voice (literally, her name is Alexa).
Once “things” are connected to the internet, they can only but become enrolled as active, worldly participants by knitting together, facilitating and contributing to networks of social exchange and discourse, and rearranging the rules of occupancy and patterns of mobility within the physical world’ ~Julian Bleecker
So therefore what does it mean to have this technology in our lives?
Amazon Echo can be defined as becoming an active participant in a humans life, it defines the social exchange of information for individuals by allowing them to access the internet where ever they are in their home. It also challenges the rules of occupancy and patterns of mobility in which the way people normally connect with the internet as this device is always connected.
The only question is now, can this device be hacked? And then, will all the information in the cloud be lost or gained by someone else? Definitely don’t want a scary computer trying to kill me in my own house, that’s for damn sure.