Voice proximity detection on Google Home is faulty


I am a big user of Google Home. I have one in almost every room in the house and in some I have two. Most of the time, it works well, but the fact that there are so many homes is unique is that they are more than average to struggle to know who you are talking to. Sometimes it's okay, and sometimes it's very broken.

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With all the countless Okay Google compatible devices in our lives, Google needs to have a system that gives priority to these devices so that they do not all respond to each request. The procedure is complicated, but you must know two basic rules. The first is simple: If a tablet / phone and a Google home computer connected to the same Google account hear the keyword, the Google Assistant selects the home file.

But if more than one Google Home hears you, as is the case at home, with just about every interaction I have with these devices, things are a little more complicated. Google has never shared the intricacies of how its system works, but there is an algorithm that simply tries to decide which device can hear your voice … the better. Most of the time, it works, especially if you only have a few Google homes and are far enough apart in your home.

The annoyance occurs when you have as many Google Homes as me (which is 7, by the way) and you live in a relatively small one-story home. Yes, I'll admit it's exaggerated, but it's not terribly unreasonable or unrealistic, right?

Google Hoe Duo

I have noticed most often problems in the kitchen, which at the moment has two houses. There is a Home Hub right next to the stove and a Home Max on the "dining room" side of the kitchen (it's not a separate room, but the other side of the kitchen). Usually, I stand right in front of one of them, saying "OK Google," and the other device thinks it's better for me. Both devices are quite distant from each other and are even separated by a partial wall. You will think that this will not happen. And they do not discriminate – Home Max speaks to me as often as the Home Hub.

In this example, the imperfection of Google Home Voice Proximity Detection is annoying, but it is partly understandable, since the difference in clarity and volume between what is picked up by the two sets of far field microphones is probably not radical. he should be enough for Google to distinguish them – to know who I am standing next to and talking directly in is better. But the problem is not enough to complain about writing an article like this.

It's amazing, it's sometimes worse. Yesterday, I was standing right next to the Google Home Hub mentioned in my kitchen. I set a timer for something I put in the oven. This time, sort of, the Google Home standard that was Several pieces away with two walls between me and her (not to mention a closed door) thought he'd hear me better. Yes, I saw that the reception center actively heard the keyword and my request. And there was Three Google Homes between me and that of this remote bathroom that should have heard better too.

Fortunately, Google keeps all this information in My Activity. I have therefore had the opportunity to hear exactly what this distant House had heard from me. Admittedly, I spoke loudly enough (and my house sounds apparently acoustically enough) for this not to be the case. completely choked, but you can tell how far away I am. This is how this distant home heard me:


Google Home Remote Standard

I could not download what the Home Hub had heard at this time because My Activity did not record the queries ignored by Google Assistant, but I took this opportunity to try again to capture what the Home Hub probably heard and ignored. As you can see, it's much clearer.


Google Home Hub at 1 foot

The difference is obvious. So I do not understand how Google could have decided that the remote solution was better. Was it just a bug? Has the algorithm found the voice loud and clear at about thirty feet in a way worse than that choked at about thirty meters? Why does the Home Max in the kitchen (or even a closer Home Mini in the bedroom) not catch my voice? Why does this happen only on rare occasions (in my case, perhaps one in 10 interactions) that are too rare to replicate easily, but not enough so that it is not a problem?

There is very little public information about the actual operation of this algorithm. Is he trying to determine only vocal clarity? Or does he take into account the voice volume, which in some cases could do quality less (if too strong), leading to distant homes assuming you were talking to them instead? Maybe some kind of extra noise, such as an echo or background music, breaks the system?

Anyway, these problems are frequent enough to prevent the user from making a mistake. It is sometimes understandable to listen to a quality gap between two Google homes in the same room at a distance of 10 feet (although I Probably but assuming there is no material problem, a house far from you thinking you can hear your voice more clearly than the one you stand on is frustrating. In my case, I had to go through the house to turn off the timer on my oven, which would certainly baffle most people.

There are a lot of variables here, but there will be more than Google when Google launches more Google, Google compatible products. The far field mics of these different Home models have seemingly variable quality, are positioned differently on the devices themselves and could even theoretically be physically blocked (if you touch a Home Hub with dirty kitchen fingers, for example).

I do not think, however, that there are more variables out of the norm in my case, and I have been facing these problems for a number of years now. So I can testify that this is not something that Google is actively working to improve. Maybe it's time for this voice-based proximity detection system to get some tweaking.

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