Published: Thu, February 21, 2019
IT | By Lester Massey

Google calls Nest's hidden microphone an 'error'

Google calls Nest's hidden microphone an 'error'

The voice activation requires a microphone to work.

What's the harm in including an accidentally secret microphone?

Google also said that the microphone has never been turned on and "is only activated when users specifically enable the option". "That was an error on our part". The company said sound sensing devices are common in security systems.

The problem - users didn't know a microphone even existed on their Nest security devices to begin with.

Then, earlier in February, Google noted that its voice assistant feature would be available on the Nest Guard.

The Nest Secure system includes a collection of sensors, as well as a hub and a keypad for a security code.

Mistakes such as this don't do Google any favors when it comes to building trust with consumers.

"This is the kind of thing that makes me paranoid of smart home devices", commented Nick Heer, who writes the Pixel Envy blog.

'This market is normalising the disturbing notion of tech giants constant listening within the privacy of our homes.


Google claimed the video -which the public was never meant to see- was created to "provoke discussion and debate", and was "not related to any current or future products".

However, one of the very first features to take advantage of Nest Secure's previously undisclosed built-in microphone seems to have nothing to do with home security, but with the device's ability to use Google Assistant.

Meanwhile, a mother in NY found that her Nest home monitoring system was hacked by a stranger - who started talking to her five-year-old son.

The stranger quizzed the boy on how he travelled home from school.

At the search giant's annual I/O developer conference, CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled a new technology called "Duplex" that enables its Google Assistant to make phone calls in real-time with actual humans.

The company says it should have been listed in the technical specifications.

Perhaps most terrifying is an internal video leaked from Google previous year, describing a future in which Google hoards user data and uses it to push those users towards behavior that "reflects Google's values".

Google has also come under scrutiny on more than one occasion.

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