Who knew that Big Brother would come in the form of a tiny $49 voice-enabled speaker?
Google has been forced to issue a software patch to fix an issue with their newly released Home Mini which has reportedly be recording everything that its users say and sending their words to Google servers, regardless of whether or not they mean to use the device.
This was first brought to light by journalist Artem Russakovskii, after he returned from a Google launch event with his new Home Mini. He placed it in his bathroom, where it started to record everything he said in the area, even if he didn’t use the phrase “Hey Google,” which is meant to tell the Home Mini that the user intends to speak to it. The device would wake up at random times without making any noise and sent everything it heard to Google servers.
Russakovskii made his discovery upon checking his Google My Activity page, where he found thousands of instances where his Home Mini recorded his voice without the use of a hotword. He decided to contact Google about the problem, which prompted the company to immediately take action. A spokesperson from Google said,
We learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Mini devices that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly. We rolled out an update on October 7 to mitigate the issue, before Google Home Mini shipped to anyone in the UK.
The problem came as a result of another feature of the Home Mini: a touch panel which, when pressed, triggered the assistant without the use of a hotword. Apparently, Russakovskii’s device, along with many others, thought that the panel was being pressed at all times, prompting the machine to be constantly listening to users’ voices.
Google’s solution to the problem? Completely deactivating the touch feature. It is said that approximately 4,000 Home Minis were affected by the issue, and Google set up a support page in regards to addressing the problem.
If you are one of the affected customers, you can request a new Home Mini by contacting Google Home Support at 1-855-971-9121.