Google tells Nest users to warn their guests that their conversations are being recorded
- Google’s Nest products can record audio and video without user prompting
- A top Google executive admits he tells house guests they are being recorded
- Nest Hub Max lets users to organize a surveillance network in their own homes
In a few decades it seems as if the whole world has turned into a recording studio.
If there aren’t CCTV cameras filming overhead, it’s likely some hidden phone app is quietly running in the background, tracking location data or maybe even eavesdropping on a call.
At a media briefing in New York this week, Google announced an update to its Nest-branded line of smart home devices, which extend the web of constant surveillance into the home with the announcement of new Google Nest Mini and Google Nest Hub Max devices.
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The walls have eyes with Google’s new line of smart home devices, including the Nest Mini (pictured above), which can begin recording audio without its owners input.
It’s one thing if Google customers want to turn their homes into always-on recording zones, but the devices prompt an interesting question: Do they have any obligation to their guests, who might not realize they’re giving up a degree of privacy while having a glass of wine on the sofa?
In an interview with the BBC after the company’s recent New York media event, Google’s Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services, admitted he would tell people who visited him at home that they were likely being recorded by one or more of his devices.
‘Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest?’ Osterloh said.
‘I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.’
Google’s Nest-branded devices create a seamless surveillance network throughout a person’s home, allowing them to record what takes place when they are and aren’t present.
Nest Mini is a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s Alexa, which can accept voice commands and also monitor for potential danger sounds while a user is away from the home.
One example, shown by Google is a frisky dog knocking a container of cereal off a kitchen table while its owners are away.
Google’s general manager of Nest products, Rishi Chandra, introduced the new wall mounted Nest Mini in New York this week.
The sound is recorded by Nest Mini, which sends an alert to the homeowners, who then observe the scene via the built-in camera on the Nest Hub Max.
The home owners can then issue a voice command to their robotic vacuum to clean up the spilled cereal so the mess will be taken care of before they return home from work.
The devices are all self-regulating, which mean they can begin recording independently of user commands.
That makes it possible for an intimate conversation with a friend or visiting family member to be recorded without their knowing.
WHAT IS GOOGLE’S NEST HUB MAX?
Nest Hub Max will launch this summer for $229
Google’s latest smart home device has a built in camera for video-chatting and even indoor security.
At the annual I/O developer conference, the firm unveiled the $229 Nest Hub Max that combines the features of Nest and Home Hub devices.
It has a 10-inch HD display, smart camera, and a rear-facing woofer to provide ‘full stereo sound.’
Nest Hub Max can be used to keep an eye on your home when you aren’t there, and comes with the ability to enable notifications for motion or unfamiliar people.
Google Duo capability also means it can be used for video calling on iOS and Android devices. ‘You can also use Duo to leave video messages for other members of your household,’ Google notes.
Nest Hub Max will launch in the US this summer for $229, along with the UK (£219) and in Australia (AUS$349).
The Nest Hub Max has a built-in camera with a wide-angle lens and 10-inch display