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FOX43 Finds Out: Can a commercial access your smart device?

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HARRISBURG, Pa -- A 15 second commercial got a lot of attention after a few simple words prompted a smart device to be activated.

FOX43 finds out how this all works and if you can stop it.

"I've got an idea - OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?"

Those 7 seconds of a Burger King commercial opened up a whole new way to advertise.

OK Google, is the prompt that wakes up a Google Home devices and leads to a Wikipedia search.

In this case, a Wikipedia search of a whopper complete with a listing of ingredients.

"It's like some science fiction movie. So, I think we're getting there close, pretty quickly," said Andrew Hacker, a cyber security expert at Harrisburg University.

He believes these commercials and ads that interact or wake up your smart devices are a whole new way to advertise for some companies.

"They would embed a little signal within that television commercial that can activate your phone," said Hacker.

Amazon Echo uses similar technology to the Google Home both are voice activated.

However, Hacker thinks it`s only a matter of time before companies are using GPS on your phone or even facial recognition on a smart TV to send ads or maybe coupons to your phone during a TV commercial.

"So you're sitting in your living room , you have your phone next you you, you're watching tv and somebody's communicating from your TV into your phone to tell that advertiser that you're sitting there."

Hacker says what`s interesting about this type of advertising is we`re not sure if you can exactly opt in or out.

There might be something in a terms of condition somewhere, but it`s pretty rare people read all of that.

"When you have everything talking to everything else, security gets really difficult," said Hacker.

There are numerous reports that Google has deactivated that prompt on the Google home device.

Meaning that commercial will no longer lead to a wiki search of a Whopper unless an actual human in the room says it, not the commercial.

We reached out to both Google and Burger King and never heard back.

Hacker says if this advertising trend continues the only real way to opt out is to put your device on something like airplane mode, but then you can't access things like wi-fi, so it kind of defeats the purpose of a smart device all together.


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