Burger King made headlines yesterday when it began running a 15-second television ad made to intentionally activate Google Home speakers and Android phones within earshot.

The simple commercial involves someone posing as a Burger King employee who leans into the camera to ask the question "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?" – a request designed to prompt Google virtual assistants nearby to start reading the burger's Wikipedia entry. To the relief of many, Google quickly moved to prevent its Home speakers from responding to the ad by registering the sound clip and disabling the trigger.

burger king
Voices on TV have been inadvertently triggering smart speakers for months now, but the ad represents the first attempt by a company to purposely hijack users' devices for commercial gain. One likely reason Burger King chose to target Google Home rather than iPhones is that unlike Apple's Siri, the virtual assistant cannot be trained to recognize a particular user's voice, which highlights one of the main issues with connected smart speakers currently on the market.

As it stands, Google Home can only be used with a single Google account at a time, and lacks the ability to differentiate users by their voice patterns. Google has said its ultimate goal for Home is to be able to identify different people in the same room – and hints of multi-user functionality have briefly appeared in the Google Home app – suggesting some sort of voice identification feature is likely coming.

Likewise, Amazon is known to be working on a similar system that would allow its Echo range of smart speakers to distinguish between individual users based on the sound of their voices. According to sources, Amazon's feature would work by matching the person speaking to a pre-recorded voice sample, or "voice print", to verify the speaker's identity. Currently, Echo users can set up multiple profiles and jump between them, but the user must say "switch accounts" or use the Alexa app to do so.


Last May it was rumored that Apple will launch an Echo-like speaker with Siri integration, enabling users to play music, get news headlines, and more, without needing to interact with their iPhone.

According to one source, Apple's speaker could process many typical iPhone Siri commands. For example, users may be able to ask the device to read e-mails, send text messages and tweets, and stream content from Apple Music. Apple is even said to have considered integrating map information into the speaker, allowing the device to notify a user when it's time to leave the house for an appointment.

However, all of these capabilities would require Siri to know exactly who it is interacting with – a feat which, in a communal setting, could pose significant technical challenges for a company high on privacy. In this sense, the appearance of an Apple smart speaker may ride on Apple's ability to make user voice recognition as secure as biometric authentication features like Touch ID.

On the other hand, Apple could bring in biometric features to augment the speaker's user identification system. Indeed, some of Apple's speaker prototypes in testing are said to include technology related to facial recognition, potentially aided by Apple's acquisition of Faceshift and Emotient, which may help the device act based on who is in a room or a person’s emotional state. How secure such systems would be in these scenarios remains unclear, however. According to rumors, Apple's smart speaker-esque device could release later this year.

Top Rated Comments

JCoe13 Avatar
94 months ago
Pretty creative move. Too bad Google already stopped it.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
94 months ago
So the voice actor for the ad can no longer use the "Okay google" hotword on his google devices?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mwcfc1905 Avatar
94 months ago
When google get a request asking about the whooper it should respond with information about the big mac!
that would help stop this
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamneer Avatar
94 months ago
Nice. Because 1 obnoxious form of advertising at a time isn't enough for corporations anymore, so they naturally come up with ways to use their ads to prompt other ads. Soon enough, modern life will simply be an Inception of advertising. We'll need to spin a top to figure out whether or not someone's trying to sell us something.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Aston441 Avatar
94 months ago
I LIKE that my friends can use my Echos, so they can switch around the lighting, music etc.

I'm the only one that knows the code to initiate the self-destruct sequence, so I'm not seeing the security issue here?

Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oneMadRssn Avatar
94 months ago
I LIKE that my friends can use my Echos, so they can switch around the lighting, music etc.

I'm the only one that knows the code to initiate the self-destruct sequence, so I'm not seeing the security issue here?



https://www.xkcd.com/1807/
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Wednesday June 19, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...
Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
back to school 2024

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launches, Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Thursday June 20, 2024 4:29 am PDT by
Apple has launched its annual Back to School promotion for college students in the United States. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with any new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac, and a $100 gift card with the purchase of any new M4 iPad ...
iOS 17

Apple Releases First Public Beta of iOS 17.6

Thursday June 20, 2024 10:18 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the first betas of upcoming iOS 17.6 and iPadOS 17.6 updates to public beta testers, with the betas coming a few days after the initial iOS and iPadOS 17.6 developer betas. Public beta testers can get the beta by opening up the Settings app, going to the Software Update section, tapping on the "Beta Updates" option, and toggling on the iOS 17 or iPadOS 17 Public Beta....