The Alexa story

Whatever it takes

This part

To execute its plan, internally called AMPED, Amazon contracted with an Australian data collection firm called Appen and went on the road with Alexa, in disguise. Starting in Boston, Appen rented homes and apartments, and then Amazon littered several rooms with all kinds of “decoy” devices: pedestal microphones, Xbox gaming consoles, televisions, and tablets. There were also some 20 Alexa devices planted around the rooms at different heights, each shrouded in an acoustic fabric that hid them from view but allowed sound to pass through. Appen then contracted with a temp agency, and a stream of contract workers filtered through the properties, eight hours a day, six days a week, reading scripts from an iPad with canned lines and open-ended prompts like “Ask to play your favorite tune” and “Ask anything you’d like an assistant to do.