October 26, 2018

Invasion of Smarthome "Surveillance" Appliances

Opened up my email this morning, was immediately prompted with a new Google product called the Home Hub. This device is conceptually not much different than the Amazon Echo Show or Echo Spot. Essentially, it's a fixed tablet with function of a smart speaker built-in. Having an LCD display in place, it addresses the missing link to the smarthome appliances, the ability to control them without having the need to go through your smartphone, essentially the "head" of an otherwise headless system.
More convenience in every corner.
This was one of their marketing slogans from that same email, which is to say that Google now has a wide range of smartspeaker of any size of your choosing. For quite some time now, the concept of loading up on smartspeakers has been making me uneasy. In exchange for convenience, placing various smart listening devices (speakers, cameras, etc.) around the house meant the devices are listening all the time, for how long will this information be captured for? Perhaps this detail is embedded deep within each company's lengthy privacy policy thanks to the new GDPR requirement but I still don't feel at ease. Currently, there is very little trust between consumers and silicon valley tech titans. The paranoid side of me already wondered if our smartphones are listening to our conversations, I have a co-worker who swears that his phone is somehow listening and serving up targeted ads to him.

When Iron Man first came out 10 years ago, I wondered about how long before a smart assistant like G.A.R.V.I.S would be available to us. The reality, as it appears, is closer I suppose with Google now able to act as a voice-command hub to all the smart appliances in your house (lights, locks, cameras, tv, etc.) . Why stop there, before long, we just might be able to ask "Hey Google, start the car and pull it out of the garage". (I suppose Tesla is already there)

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