Google and Amazon know when you go to sleep

Amazon Echo and Google Home could figure out when you turn off the light and go to sleep. Consumer groups and manufacturers are calling for more clarity

Google and Amazon are gradually expanding the amount of data collected by their Digital Assistants. Each voice command represents valuable information for the two global giants. In particular, it turns out that Amazon Echo and Google Home manage to know when a light bulb is on or off.

This information may seem trivial, if you consider that, thanks to GPS today it is possible to know exactly where a person is at any time of the day. However, it should be considered that information related to sleep-wake cycles can be a key piece of information to improve the data available for marketing activities, especially when people are in an intimate place like the home. This realization has sparked quite a bit of controversy and heated confrontation between Amazon, Google and consumer groups.

Why Amazon and Google want to know our habits

Although Amazon and Google deny such tight control over their users, their official Guidelines do not place clear limits on the information collected by personal assistants Alexa and Google Assistant. The companies justify themselves by saying that all data is collected to simplify the lives of their customers.

Devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home have spread rapidly in recent times, especially in the United States. The phenomenon has also influenced the development of smart home appliances, which are now able to connect to Personal Assistants very easily. Among the most widely used home appliances are smart light bulbs that are used in conjunction with Google and Amazon Assistants. For example, pronouncing "Alexa turn off the light" will cause the bulb to block its light source.

Google and Amazon are working to ensure that their Voice Assistants remain connected to smart bulbs at all times, not just when specifically requested. This intention has sparked controversy from consumers and manufacturers. Ian Crowe, Director of Logitech said that "Uncontrolled sharing of personal information is never good, it's up to the user to decide how much and what to share."

What are the risks?

Smart bulbs, seemingly so harmless, actually provide important information about people's habits: they allow you to understand when they come home, how long they stay in their room and when they go to sleep. Many argue that Google and Amazon want to get their hands on this information to ensure advertisers more effective marketing activities based on people's most intimate habits.

While on the one hand, smart home device companies are demanding more transparency from Amazon and Google in terms of privacy, the two tech giants continue to put off the comparison. The debate is in the thick of it, we just have to wait for its developments.