Google Home Now Recognizes Your Voice, Adds Support For Multiple Users


The Google Home device can do a lot of things. It can use your voice to answer trivia questions, brighten your Philips Hue smart lightbulbs, and even turn up the temperature on a Nest thermostat. But until now, one thing it couldn't do was tell who the heck in a house was talking to it.

Until now. On Thursday, Google announced an update to Google Home that will allow the device to discern which member of a household is speaking to it, and offer personalized information based on who that individual is. So if one person asks what their schedule looks like for the upcoming day, they'll get their calendar appointments—and not those of their spouse or roommate.

According to Google, the new feature' support for individualized information includes calendar appointments, shopping lists, relevant news and podcasts, commute information, photos, and Uber accounts (so if you ask Google to call you a car, it will be billed to your profile). It also allows Google to remember personal details you may have previously divulged to your Home device, such as your name or favorite color.

For the new feature to work, users will be prompted to "train" the cloud-based service with their voice. Google Home will prompt them to ask a number of questions, which are analyzed in order to discern who is speaking.

The Google Home

Google/Alphabet

This last bit opens up some interesting possibilities. Right now, the feature is aimed at the relatively simple task of identifying a single individual within a single household. But by mixing an identity profile with a unique vocal signatures, Google could basically do for voice what Facebook has done for photos—where countless identity tags give the company the ability to tell who is pictured in any given shot. This could mean applications that use our voices as a form of verbal password, as well as giving Google the further ability to customize information based on our personal needs—even outside the home. And while there are obvious privacy implications at work here (I'll leave speculating on those to somebody else), this is the sort of feature that could lead to a lot more than personal commute times or tailoring news based on our favorite sports teams.

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