Triggered: Google Super Bowl Commercial Sends Google Home AI Assistants Into A Tizzy

Google Home

You can always count on Super Bowl commercials causing a few laughs (along with some uncomfortable moments) and Super Bowl LI over the weekend was no exception, though not all of the giggles were as intended. One of the came when Google ran an ad for its voice-activated AI speaker called Google Home. The 60-second ad spot featured several demos, which amusingly caused Google Home speakers in the wild to respond.

About 16 seconds into the ad, an actress opens the door to her home and exclaims, "Okay Google, turn on the hall lights." It was one of half a dozen times the words "Okay Google" were spoken during the commercial, each one followed by a specific command. Google was attempting to demonstrate how useful its AI speaker can be, but in doing so it caught the attention of Google Home speakers in homes.

That was not the intended purpose of the ad, of course, but with these devices always listening for the trigger phrase "Okay Google," it was probably inevitable. As these things become more commonplace, it will be interesting to see if companies design ways to avoid inadvertently interacting with smart speakers when airing commercials. One way might be to inject a tone that only the speakers can hear when saying the trigger phrase. The tone would tell the speaker to ignore what it just heard.

This is not the first time something like this has happened and it likely will not be the last.Just last month, a commercial for Amazon's Echo device was heard by Alexa-enabled devices at home.