Google Home gets gamed by Burger King: ‘OK, Google, what is the Whopper?’

In a move bound to upset the makers of virtual assistants, Burger King has developed a TV ad that tricks the Google Home device into searching for information about the fast-food giant’s flagship hamburger.

That’s according to a new report that says Burger King is launching a marketing blitz for the ad.

Google Home houses the “Assistant” virtual assistant, which responds to voice commands after the user utters the words, “OK, Google.”

In the ad, embedded in a Buzzfeed story, a fresh-faced young burger slinger says the 15-second spot isn’t long enough to “explain all the fresh ingredients in the Whopper sandwich,” but then he says he has an idea.

“OK, Google, what is the Whopper burger?” he says.

It could be expected that Burger King, by triggering Google Home to search for this product, would irritate more than just vegans and vegetarians.

Who wants a random company coming uninvited into their home?

Burger King did not immediately respond to a question asking whether it had concerns about angering consumers.

Google, which according to a source familiar with the matter had no role in the ad’s creation, declined to comment.

The Burger King ad caught the attention of New York Times journalist Farhad Manjoo, who concluded that such advertising would also pose a problem for Amazon, whose “Echo” virtual-assistance devices have sold in the millions.

“This is bad,” Manjoo tweeted. “Google and Amazon should work to stop this.”

Manjoo offered a possible solution: “These devices should have some voice ID system.”

UPDATE: Burger King’s Google-gaming lasted only a few hours, reports indicate. By late afternoon April 12, according to two news outlets, the commercial would no longer cause Home to search for a Whopper.

“Google has likely registered the sound clip from the ad to disable unwanted Home triggers, as it does with its own Google Home commercials,” tech website The Verge reported.

UPDATE #2: Burger King reportedly found a way to re-game Google the night of April 12. “When the ad aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday night, it successfully set off Google Home devices,” Buzzfeed reported. A spokesperson for the fast food company told the news outlet that Burger King had “deployed another very similar commercial that could trigger the smart speaker technology.” Google did not respond to Buzzfeed’s request for comment.

Photo: People visit a Google pop-up shop in New York City in October 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

 

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