Your smart speaker wants to know everything – and that’s a turn-off for some

Both Amazon and Google are pushing manufacturers of smart gadgets to give them a continuous stream of information about what these devices are doing – whether or not the user actually used their smart speakers to turn the device on or off.

That’s a huge increase in the amount of detailed information these two tech giants want to collect about you, your activities, and your preferences. Previously, the companies would only collect information every time the smart speaker was used to, for example,  turn on a light or unlock a door. With the new changes, they are pushing manufacturers to send them a nonstop stream of data about these devices’ status – even when the smart speaker is not being used.

Smart manufacturers strike back

Logitech is trying to push back on these demands for detailed, granular data, especially before users OK the data sharing. “We should have a good reason, and our users should agree it’s a good reason,” said Ian Crowe, a senior director with Logitech International in Bloomberg. He added that the Logitech’s Harmony hub only gives basic descriptions such as information that the TV is on versus detailed information on the specific channel. “There are very relevant concerns about how much the system knows,” he says.

As a fairly large manufacturer, Logitech may also be in a better position to push back against demands for data than other IoT startups wanting to get their products in the good graces of Amazon and Google.

The onslaught has yet to arrive

This quest for information comes as the numbers of smart speakers and their digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa are climbing rapidly. Juniper Research estimated that there are already 2.5 billion digital assistants in use by the end of 2018 – and this number is forecast to jump up to eight billion by 2023.

They only want you

Smart speakers are one of the very first smart IoT devices installed in the home – and are commonly used to connect other devices. While having nonstop status reports might make their operation smoother, it raises a number of questions about what these tech giants plan to do with this data, their ability to use this information for targeted marketing, and the privacy issues from any entity – whether a profitable corporation or a well-meaning government – having access to activities inside your private dwelling.

As a PR Consultant and journalist, Frink has covered IT security issues for a number of security software firms, as well as provided reviews and insight on the beer and automotive industries (but usually not at the same time). Otherwise, he’s known for making a great bowl of popcorn and extraordinary messes in a kitchen.