It appears that Google is on the cusp of launching "Hey Google" sensitivity controls for their smart home devices, according to a report. Last September, word went around the tech world that Google was developing sensitivity controls for the "Hey Google" activation of its smart home devices. This week, XDA Developers' Mishaal Rahman discovered in the Home App's code that this ability is about to roll out to the public.
In fact, each Google device (like a smart TV or Nest Mini, for example) that is registered in one's Home app can have its activation sensitivity customized. Users will be able to select exactly how easily they want Google to be able to hear them and respond on a slider that spans from "least sensitive" to "most sensitive." Depending on how often accidental activations happen, this could keep your devices from listening in on your conversations when not asked.
While the feature isn't yet available, it can be found inactive within the Home App's code, according to XDA Developers; it's likely that it will roll out sooner rather than later. While this will certainly not be fail-proof, the feature would give legions of users of Google's Android phone ecosystem, coupled with smart home devices from its own brand, some sort of control over how often does the Google Assistant get activated, and in turn, how much data it ends up collecting 'accidentally'.
Multiple reports about such practices have revealed that Google does collect a startling amount of voice data and has third party human contractors listen to them for "quality improvement" purposes. However, due to accidental activation of the Assistant, these recordings often include snippets of sensitive conversations, such as intimate moments or even financial data of some users. Going forward, Google will hope that its new step will help curb at least some of the data malpractice reports.
(With inputs from AFP Relaxnews)