Google enables undocumented microphones in IoT devices – archived source

Nest Secure had a secret microphone, can now be a Google Assistant

By Ms. Smith, CSO | 5 FEBRUARY 2019 17:39 CET

The Nest Secure system had secret microphone that can now make the Nest Guard security hub double as Google Assistant device. Happy Safer Internet Day!?!

If your IoT device secretly contained a microphone, which was previously undocumented, would you be happy when the device maker announced an over-the-air update that can enable the microphone for virtual assistant voice functionality? That’s what happened with the security alarm system Nest Secure.

@nest where in any of the nest guard product materials does it mention a microphone? Have I had a device with a hidden microphone in my house this entire time?— Me (@treaseye) February 4, 2019

We included a microphone in the Nest Guard with features such as the Google Assistant in mind.
It has not been used up to this point, and you can enable or disable it at any time using the Nest app.— Nest (@nest) February 4, 2019

When announcing that a software update will make Google Assistant available on Nest Guard, Google added, “The Google Assistant on Nest Guard is an opt-in feature, and as the feature becomes available to our users, they’ll receive an email with instructions on how to enable the feature and turn on the microphone in the Nest app. Nest Guard does have one on-device microphone that is not enabled by default.”

Nest Secure owners have been able to use Google Assistant and voice commands, but it previously required a separate Google Assistant device to hear your commands. I suppose it depends upon your outlook on if you are happy or creeped out that your security system secretly had an undocumented microphone capable of doing the listening all along.

Google didn’t really focus on the “surprise there was a microphone hidden in the Nest Guard brain of your Nest Secure” angle, preferring a take on how Google Assistant and Nest Guard can help you out. The announcement concluded with: “We’ve built Nest Secure around you and the way you live, so you won’t be able to disarm the system using your voice. With the Google Assistant built in, your security system is now even more helpful.”