An ‘NBA on TNT’ ad is triggering people’s HomePods and they are not pleased

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You may not be the only one controlling your smart assistant — savvy advertisers are in on the game, too. Per a new report from Apple Insider, there is an NBA on TNT ad that features the phrase, “Don’t wanna miss out? Hey Siri, show me the NBA schedule,” which triggers the HomePod (or any other device with always-on “Hey Siri” support), much to a user’s chagrin.

The tactic is nothing new. Previously, advertisers used similar practices to go after Amazon Echo or Google Home owners, causing Alexa or Assistant to kick into gear upon hearing the requisite wake word. While that does not appear to be quite as popular of a technique any longer, given the HomePod’s relative newness to the market, it’s no surprise that advertisers are looking for new ways to reach potential customers.

Part of the reason the HomePod is so susceptible to this advertising trick lies in one of its greatest attributes — the microphone technology of the smart speaker is extremely sensitive, and meant to hear and respond to a listener from more extensive distances. Alas, that also means that if your television set says something following “Hey Siri,” your HomePod will likely do it.

Moreover, while iPhone and iPad owners generally have to train Siri to respond more exclusively to their unique voices, this is not the case with HomePods. Indeed, there have been quite a few instances of Siri on the HomePod responding to people who are not her owners.

More broadly, folks have pointed out the HomePod is not the best in terms of being able to differentiate among various users, which could be particularly problematic given that the smart speaker actually recites some personal information, like text messages. And the only thing more embarrassing than having a parent read your text messages is having your smart assistant read them to said parent — really, where do your loyalties lie, Siri?

That said, given that Apple recently hired Google’s former head of artificial intelligence and search, John Giannandrea, in order to improve Apple’s A.I. and machine learning technologies, these problems could very well soon be addressed.


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