Smoke Alarm Detection Enabled By Mistake in Google Home Devices

Google Home should only listen when users speak the activation words. Users reported that their smart assistants started to pick up and register various sounds in people’s homes, wrongly, as smoke alarms.

Smart speakers, powered by smart assistants, slowly become the norm. People tend to forget they are around, ready to answer and record. Google, Amazon and Apple are regularly in hot water because they have to deal with the privacy nightmare that accompanies personal data collection.

Technically, the devices only activate when spoken to, but that’s not always the case. It turns out that devices can independently listen if the company that builds them wishes it so. Or, in this case, if the company enables a feature by mistake.

A Reddit user observed a notification on his phone that Google heard a smoke detector going off. This happened while cooking, and it turns out that his Google Home was the one that caught the sound. Keep in mind that a cheap smoke detector with no Internet connection made the sound.

Google cleared the situation by explaining that it was a mistake.

“The feature was accidentally enabled for some users through a recent software update and has since been rolled back,” Google told Protocol.

The company is likely testing this new feature, which would allow people to closely monitor their homes when they’re away. It also gives a new perspective on what these companies can do with the flick of a switch.

The Reddit user wasn’t the only one to notice the notifications, and other people said that the sound of broken glass or construction could also trigger the smoke alarm notification.

Amazon’s Echo already has a similar feature called “Guard.” The difference is that it has to be explicitly enabled when leaving the house, and it’s not triggered automatically.

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