A new advert from Burger King threatens to irritate millions as the actor attempts to activate Google Home Devices to read the Wikipedia entry for its Whopper burger.
It was always going to happen, and Google claims it has put a stop to the scheme, but the threat to irritate millions is still there. In the advert, the actor claims there isn’t enough time to explain the Whopper proposition (seriously!? It’s a burger FFS), but hijacks the Google Home Device which then reads the Wikipedia entry. The entry itself has clearly been changed to suit the purposes of the advert as it reeks of marketing copy.
Although it is a quirky story, there are two threats to the development of the smart home here.
Firstly, the irritation factor. Imagine you are sat in your living room on a quiet evening, enjoying a nice chat and a glass of wine with the TV on in the background. The last thing you want are adverts constantly setting off your device with mind-numbing propaganda. Adverts are irritating enough, you don’t need them in stereo.
How many people are going to buy a smart home device if there is the threat of it chirping away all the time under the command of an aspiring actor or shallow celebrity endorser? Your correspondent certainly wouldn’t get involved.
Another threat is what else can be done. This is an idea from the Burger King advertising department, but there will also be more nefarious individuals who will have more damning intentions than making you a bit unhealthier. We’re not saying cyber criminals will start buying advertising space and ordering smart home devices to broadcast your bank details to the world, but it does pose the question of what else can be done.
It’s the fear of the unknown which could cause criticism here. Ignorance is often described as bliss, but not in this instance. It’s a potential stumbling block for the smart home segment, but there are still a huge number of known unknowns and unknown unknowns for the devices to be considered secure for the moment.
Smart home device manufacturers have been under the microscope in recent months by a number of privacy groups concerning when and how data is collected, but this has the potential to open up another privacy debate.
Adverts have inadvertently triggered devices in the past, but this is the first time it has done so intentionally. The backlash has been relatively subdued for the moment, but the question of security is still being whispered in the background, just not loud enough to activate the Google Home Device for the moment.
With Amazon and Google launching smart home initiatives, have the telcos missed out on their chance to cash in on this market?
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