Incidentally, this is also how Amazon's AI speakers work. Looking at its inviting fabric covered-design and the array of funky colors it comes in, one would think it's a pretty harmless piece of technology.
The issue was discovered by Artem Russakovskii, who received a review unit of the £49 speaker from Google. Everything was going fine at first; the product was working perfectly as intended. The culprit, it seemed, was the device's touch panel, created to allow his Home Mini to activate Google Assistant without a verbal command; due to a fault, the device constantly experienced "phantom" touch events that turned the assistant on and began recording. They've also, according to their support page, removed data from the My Activity portal from between the 4th to 7th of October for the Home Mini. I saw thousands of items, each with a Play button and a timestamp, all attributed to the cryptically named com.google.android.apps.chirp/mushroom/prod and Assistant. Apparently, some Home Mini devices register phantom touches, which leads to the speaker recording every sound around it.
Smart speakers are only meant to listen when you want them to, which is why they have wake-up words and phrases. After which, the device gives an answer if it's a question, or perform a task if it's a command.
In response, Google has disabled the malfunctioning touch activation feature for Google Assistant for all users, which caused the problematic recording. Google, in all fairness, was quick to resolve this issue.
"The Google Home team is aware of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Mini devices that could cause the touch control mechanism to behave incorrectly". Google, on its part, acknowledged the bug responsively and issued a software update to address the issue. He noticed that his Home Mini would flash its lights even if he doesn't activate it by saying "OK, Google" or by giving the touch panel a long press.
While we may share a lot of our data with Google already, we do so with the knowledge that we've agreed to let the search giant hoover up information on our web searches. And we all remember how much Google insisted on the quality of the Home Mini's design and materials. Have you encountered the same issue?