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Cautionary tale for intelligent lighting users: Smart TVs are listening in on us

Big Bulber: Concerned about the possible Orwellian nature of smart lighting? Perhaps you should be, if a recent example from the smart TV industry is any indication.

We’re all heading to a digital lighting future in which our connected LED lamps will automatically know when to turn on, switch off, brighten, dim, change hues and colour temperatures, flash with alerts for stock prices, sports results, wake-up alarms, burglaries or other emergencies. Yes, it seems that our lights will be able to do anything.

Including spy on us.

If that last possibility sounds far-fetched, consider this cautionary tale from the world of smart TVs: An internet-connected television from Samsung will record your voice and send your utterances around the world.

The TV includes a voice-control, which, in the course of listening for you to say something like ‘watch Breaking Bad,’ will also hear whatever other golden prose you happen to enunciate.

In an astute bit of scouring, The Daily Beast reported that the privacy policy for the product includes a buried sentence that reads, ‘Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.’

With internet-connected smart lighting emerging in our homes, in our offices and on our streets, and with them including sensors that detect motion and take pictures, it’s easy to imagine lights spying on us.

Throw in voice-activated lighting – something that’s sure to arrive – and the possibilities are even greater, especially as giant internet companies such as Google and Apple emerge as lighitng industry forces.

Not that we should be overly concerned. Or should we?

Please say hello to Big Brother if you see him, which you probably would not, because chances are he wouldn’t reveal himself in the dark underbelly of the ‘Internet of Things.’

You have been warned!

Don’t miss Lux’s Smart Lighting Controls conference in London on 26 February for more on the future of control. The event is free for end users.

Photo is from David Andrew Larsen via Shutterstock 

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