Google Tests ‘Blue Steel’ Feature that Allows Users to Bypass ‘Ok, Google’

Google is testing a new feature for the Google Nest Hub that would let users activate the hardware without the keyword using the on-board camera, according to information provided by a Nest Home hacker.

Using a voice command to initiate a smart device is the norm. It ensures that devices don’t record random pieces of a conversation in an effort to determine if the user is addressing it or not. Since the processing power is likely not sufficient for this kind of interaction, hot words are the obvious choice.

According to information posted on YouTube by Jan Boromeusz, a Google Nest Hub user, the company is testing a new feature called Blue Steel (name taken from the movie Zoolander) that allows the device to automatically activate when someone is in front of it.

The apparent privacy implications will probably keep this feature in testing for a long time, and there’s no guarantee that it will eventually land for other people as well. Google is well known for testing features that never materialize in the final product. In this case, Mr. Boromeusz happens to be in a testing ring, which is the main reason he got the feature in the first place.

Of course, the feature would be a lot more useful in smart speakers, but those devices lack cameras and implementation would be much more challenging. Slowly but surely, people’s homes are becoming smarter every day, but sometimes it happens all of a sudden.

In fact, many users already have smart homes and don’t even realize, which leaves them exposed to vulnerabilities and attacks. Smart speakers and other IoT devices like them are always among the top threats regular consumers face every day.

Image credit: Jan Boromeusz

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