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By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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The Gift of Google Home

Uploaded: Dec 31, 2016
One of the gifts our family received for Christmas this year was a Google Home. When we opened it, I first thought of a commercial I had seen about a dad using Google Home while reading to his daughter. I was excited to see how our kids would like the product.

We haven't used Google Home to answer questions while reading a book yet. Instead, our son enjoys just asking Google Home questions that pop into his head. I was surprised that Google Home can understand and answer many his questions. Of course some aren't answered, but it's been fun to see our son learn what he can ask Google Home and how to ask his questions.

I was excited to check out Google Home's ability to translate, as we are spending time with a relative who speaks very little English. However, I didn't end up using that feature. I quickly realized that I usually need an entire conversation translated rather than just a key phrase or one word.

I'm curious how our family will interact with Google Home in a few months. Right now our kids think of many questions to ask Google Home while we are away from home (at a play date, in the car, at the grocery store). But, maybe they will use it more once baby is born and we are spending a bit more time at home and I am a bit more unavailable.
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Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 1, 2017 at 7:50 am

I just ask if you really want some device listening to your every word in case you are asking it something?

As someone who turned off the "hey Siri" feature when I realized that it was listening all the time in case I might say "hey Siri" I am very wary of how technology could be programmed or hacked into recording every conversation in my home or office. I have even taped over the camera on my laptop in case it is recording whatever is going on behind me.

You could say that I am just overly cautious or suspicious, but Big Brother is Watching You, could become a reality any day now and voluntarily connecting a device that may mean you have to go into another room to have a private conversation, or "not in front of the children" changes to "not in front of Google Home" seems foolhardy to say the least.

If you think of all the video nanny cams and pet cams that record in people's homes while they are not there and surface as evidence in crimes, it seems a little creepy to me to have a device that is listening to your every word, just in case...

cue creepy music

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 1, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Resident - Thanks for sharing your thoughts about these newer technologies.

Posted by Jack Smith, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jan 2, 2017 at 2:47 am

Purchased the Echo when it launched and now had the Google Home for four weeks.

Basically the Echo you use commands where you talk to the Google Home naturally. The Echo will handle some fuzziness but fundamentally they are variations to commands instead of fundamentally understanding what you are saying.

So with the Echo you might do a quick Google search with a lyric to get a song name and then ask the Echo to play. With the Google Home you skip the Google search step.

I am starting to learn a shorter english as the inference is so incredible with the Google Home. So say "hey google play sting gwen bottle on tv". Google figures out that I want to watch a video of Gwen Stefani and Sting singing message in a bottle on my TV. It then turns the TV on, sets the proper input, and the video starts playing.

Our brains inference capabilities allow us to communicate with one another in a compressed manner. Information can be inferred versus being said. This is what Google is doing and for some (many?) things they can do better than a human.
Maybe it is because I have an engineering background but the Google Home from a technology standpoint and what Google is doing just blows me away.

The demo that most blows people away is the Google Photos with the Google Home. A bunch of people over for the holiday and someone asks how was your trip? You just say would you like to see a few pics? You just say "hey google show my photos of kenny in Maui". The TV turns itself on, input set, and photos of my son Kenny playing on the beach in Maui displays". Someone asks did you guys snorkel?

I simply ask Google to show photos of Molokini and then photos of us snorkeling at Molokini and unfortunately pics of where I forced the kids to Kayak to Molokini from the hotel. Wind changed, almost died, fantastic Coast Guard picked us up and took us back to the hotel where we were yelled at because suppose to check in once an hour. Just what happens when wife does not join me and the kids on vacation.

Then my oldest said I remember snorkeling there. Then you just say show Tommy snorkeling at Molokini. My wife had scanned and loaded 1000s of photos into Google Photos and to the shock of my oldest son photos both above and underwater display of him at Molokini.

This is simply off the charts incredible from a technology standpoint. Might be a bias for me but simply wow!
Basically one shutter click and nothing else and three months later you are in your family room without touching a single thing showing the photos. There is no more friction that can be removed.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 2, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Jack Smith - Thank you for sharing your experience with Echo, Google Home, and Google Photos. What a fun way to share holiday and vacation photos.

Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jan 4, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Watch out what you say in front of these things. Here is a viral video (apparently for real) with a young child trying to talk Amazon's internet thing: Web Link

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 4, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Parent - Thanks for sharing the link. I'm glad that adults were there to step in and intervene.

Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jan 5, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Another Amazon Echo gone wild story: Web Link
Don't these things have parental control options? I know parents are buying these things so the kids don't try to steal their parents' iphones, but these gadgets don't have passwords.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 6, 2017 at 12:04 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Parent - Thanks for sharing the article. I'm glad the family is "using it as a teachable moment."

Posted by Karen H, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Jan 6, 2017 at 11:33 am

Karen H is a registered user.

I just had a friend post this article about Google and your recording history: Web Link

When I tried it, my history was empty, so I cannot vouch for how accurate this is.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Karen H - Thanks for sharing this link about these recordings and how one could delete them.

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