Don’t put anything vital on a smart plug
For several years Google Home has worked mostly. It’s misunderstood some times sure, but the worst I think that has ever happened is it managed to turn off the wrong plug. Two nights ago it misunderstood astoundingly, and I spent the next half hour cleaning up the problems that created.
My wife asked Google to do the same thing she’s asked it to do for most of a year… turn off a specific light called Cheerio as she’s going to bed. “OK Google, turn off Cheerio.” She’s said it a few hundred times at least with no problems, Cheerio is a pretty specific hard to screw up name.
At work I have two unpronounceable switches – I gave them weird names so there was no chance they could accidentally be misheard. The switches at work allow me to reboot a switch rack remotely. I had my main internet on a kill switch at home so I could turn it off remotely in the event of a lightning storm.
At home I have several smart plugs that I’ve been using to monitor exact power usage, most of the plugs aren’t even set up.
Well, I learned that Google can mishear “Turn off the cheerio” for the similar sounding “turn every freaking thing off” as we got “all right, turning off 11 devices.” I had no idea there was the ability to shut it all down before Wednesday night.
I think there’s a maximum number it can discover when it says this because I had 36 KASA plugs turn off all at once along with 7 various mfg plugs, two air conditioners, 4 smart lights. Here’s where I learned that although my having the internet on a smart switch has it’s uses (shutting down in a lightning storm,) that it also has me trying to reach a buried smart plug at 11pm to power back up the internet so I can turn things back on.
Internet back on I went through turning 36 smart plugs back on and then noticed that work was dead. Oh yeah, due to not knowing that you could shut everything off, work’s switch rack with the “can’t possibly accidentally mishear this name” plugs had been powered off. Lerd. Powered that back on (two internet connections, I have ways).
Now I know that even with an un-screwuppable name that everything linked to Google Assistant can be shut off by one accidental misheard phrase. I went several years without being bitten by this.