Smarts homes and digital assistants are great but one needs to stay a step ahead of ’em.

Back when I got real sick a few months ago, I was bedridden at home for 8 days before finally deciding to go to the ER. I doubt I would have survived those days at home had it not been for my wife Kim who was always there for me. We stayed in touch with messages and everything I needed appeared in a flash. She is kinda amazing, thank you.

So. One late evening, I used Siri to tell Kim “help” (not an odd request in context). A short while thereafter, the doorbell rang several times. It was the police.

how could this happen?

When I gave the hey Siri, it was picked up by a new HomePod, recently purchased to use as a hub for Matter accessories. At the time, I replaced 4 outlets with new ones requiring the new hub. I failed to take into account the fact that the HomePod provides only spoken confirmations. Turns out I heard the confirmation just as poorly as Siri heard my command. Oops! My bad!

So a neighbor of ours named Ken got the help message and rightfully called the police because he was concerned that it could be a genuine request (though he thought it was most likely some kind of error). I later told him how much I appreciated that he cared enough to do that. Good neighbor.

and what did joe learn?

If Siri turns off the wrong light, so what! When Siri sends an important message to the wrong person though, that’s a biggie. Though Kim convinced the police that everything was okay, it could have gone much differently.

It didn’t take long to figure out how it happened and what I needed to do to prevent such a thing in the future.

New rule - disable personal requests on devices that provide spoken confirmations only. Done.