An on-air comment by a US TV presenter activated Amazon Echo gadgets in viewers’ homes across San Diego. The comment was made by presenter Jim Patton after a news item on a child who accidentally ordered a doll’s house via the voice-activated gadget.

Reacting to the report, Mr Patton said: “I love the little girl saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse’.” This reportedly prompted Echo devices in some homes to wake up and try to order some of the toys.

The original CW6 TV report Mr Patton reacted to was about six-year-old Brooke Neitzel from Dallas who had been talking to her family’s Echo Dot while playing.

Brooke asked Alexa to get her a doll’s house and cookies and, because the family had not turned on any buying controls, the Echo responded by placing an order for both.

The doll’s house and a large tin of cookies arrived the next morning, prompting mother Megan to investigate their arrival.

Soon after the news item about the accidental purchase aired on San Diego’s CW6 morning show, Mr Patton mentioned Alexa and that woke up other Echos in viewers’ homes, leading to complaints from their owners.

Security expert Graham Cluley said owners of the Echo needed to be aware that voice-driven buying was enabled by default.

“Consider disabling voice purchasing or enabling a four-digit confirmation code to prevent accidental purchases,” he wrote.

“There is the potential for mischief-makers to abuse the system in other ways if it can’t tell the difference between the voices of authorised and unauthorised users,” he warned.

The Alexa incident is not the first time that TV comments have forced a reaction by voice-driven gadgets.

In 2014, a TV advert for the Xbox console featuring actor Aaron Paul during which he said “Xbox On” woke up many consoles fitted with the Kinect sensor.

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