Your kitchen to answer you back


Google Home brings people together, in this Super Bowl ad.

Scott Huffman talks about improvements to the Google Assistant and the kitchen appliance partnerships with LG and GE. Picture: Eric Risberg

YOUR fridge, dishwasher, dryer, and even your oven could be listening to your conversations in future after Google revealed its controversial plans to extend its artificially intelligent assistant throughout homes today.

The internet-connected, all-hearing technology will let users ask their washing machine when their clothes will be clean, tell their air conditioner to chill, or quiz the dishwasher about the state of their cutlery.

Imagine talking to your kitchen. What will the neighbours think?

Imagine talking to your kitchen. What will the neighbours think?Source:Supplied

But technology experts warn the additions could also have a sinister side, as the technology would record and upload conversations to the internet, and those recordings could be shared or used in court.

Google revealed plans to expand its smart technology through kitchens, bedrooms and laundries as it opened its annual developers’ conference in Silicon Valley today (Thursday), with firms LG and GE confirming they would add the voice recognition technology to a host of appliances.

A woman looks at the camera out of the fridge and is about to ask The Assistant if the milk’s out-of-date.

A woman looks at the camera out of the fridge and is about to ask The Assistant if the milk’s out-of-date.Source:istock

Google Assistant vice-president Scott Huffman said the technology provided the easiest way to interact with technology.

“The Assistant is becoming even more conversational, always available wherever you need it, and ready to help get even more things done,” Mr Huffman said.

“We fundamentally believe that Google Assistant should be hands down the easiest way to accomplish tasks and that’s through conversation.”

LG will add the technology to whitegoods from washing machines to dryers, and fridges to ovens starting next month, while GE vowed to add it to freezers and dishwashers too.

But IT consultant and UTS Fellow Rob Livingston said consumers should ask themselves whether they were comfortable having their conversations recorded before installing whitegoods with microphones in their homes.

“The reality is that voice-activated devices have the potential to eavesdrop and record conversations,” he said.

“There has been a precedent set with a (Samsung) smart TV that under the terms and conditions they could record conversations and send those recordings anywhere.”

Voice recordings from smart devices have also been used by US police, with Amazon supplying recordings in a murder prosecution late last year.

Mr Livingston said using a voice-activated appliance should be treated like “effectively having a third party standing in the room while you have a conversation” and businesses should be particularly careful that they weren’t giving away commercially sensitive information.

Despite concerns about use of the technology, Telsyte recently found 40 per cent of Australians now owned at least one smart home device, up from 29 per cent last year.

The market is expected to be worth more than $4.7 billion in Australia by 2021.

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to Silicon Valley as a guest of Google

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