Google‘s launch event last week created quite the buzz and one of the new products that people are excited to try include the Google Home Mini. The small device is an always-listening smart assistant and some early shipments of the Google Home Mini came with a defect that realized our worst fear with always-listening devices.
Artem Russakovskii of Android Police received an early unit of the Home Mini and realized that his smart assistant was not responding to any of his commands. It turns out that the unit had been listening and recording 24/7. Privacy is a main concern over products like Amazon Echo and Google Home that are always listening with questions of how much information is transmitted back to the company. In Russakovskii’s case, a defect with his unit caused it to record audio constantly as it tried to answer.
The cause of the problem was what Google calls ‘phantom touches’ where the device constantly thinks it has been triggered by physical input. Both the Home and Home Mini respond to long touch gestures that trigger the device to listen and record audio to answer the command. Being recorded constantly is a huge privacy concern for consumers and Google quickly responded with a temporary fix.
A software update for the Home Mini disables physical gestures so the units can only respond to the voice command ‘OK Google’ while Google works on a long term solution.