Superbowl’s super-fail: Google Home ad triggers “meltdown” of home assistants

It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen before; in January, Amazon’s Alexa devices throughout San Diego took it upon themselves to order a bunch of expensive dollhouses after hearing what they believed to be a user command instructing them to do so. This wasn’t the case; the ‘command’ interpreted by the devices was just some incredulous commentary from San Diego news anchor Jim Patton, saying: “I love that little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse’. The appreciative remark unwittingly triggered the personified devices to order a shipment of the garish Kidkraft Sparkle Mansions. An order that, thanks to some canny users, never actually came to fruition. The dollhouse in the initial case was donated to a local children’s hospital. So some good came of the hellish fuschia descent.


Now it seems that even the mighty Google – which recently reclaimed its status as the world’s most valuable brand – is susceptible to the glitch. Their Superbowl ad for Google Home aired on Sunday to millions of TVs nationwide. In keeping with the mawkish spirit of recent technology ads, Google regaled prospective buyers with a sappy montage of familial clichés (think sleeping child carried over threshold, tail-wagging Dachshund awaits owner’s return, and so on). The lynchpin of each gooey scene, however, was the command “OK Google”, the phrase used to activate an impending command.

And it seems that the quick-fire succession of “OK Google” in the ad served to activate a horde of real-life Google Homes. Kwame Opam of The Verge, reported of his own Google Home’s oblivious response to the TV ad: “Sorry. Something went wrong.” Opam was more lighthearted than others, remarking: “I laughed, because that wasn’t supposed to happen.” Other users were more aggravated, taking to Twitter to lament that the “Google Home commercial kept setting mine off! They need to chill it with the ‘OK Google’-ing.” Others reported of the machine acting “crazy” and undergoing a “meltdown”.


To be honest, I’d rather endure a babbling home assistant than a depleted bank balance at the expense of this £160 monstrosity. For now, the future’s looking unpredictable, particularly at the hands of this novel but increasingly expansive smart-home technology.

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