How IoT Machines Plus Voice Commands Could Equal Disaster

iot internet of things voice commands siri hands free driving speak to text

It’s pretty cool to be able to tell Siri to send a text message, tell Alexa to play your favorite song or tell Google to look up a recipe. However, when it comes to large-scale machines, the Internet of Things (IoT) plus voice commands could have disastrous consequences.

In November, Volkswagen announced an upgrade to its VW Car-Net mobile app that lets iPhone users control their cars with Siri commands. They’re able use voice commands to do things like lock and unlock their car, check estimated range remain, flash the warning lights, defrost, set the temperature and toot the horn.

While the intention is to provide convenience to drivers and allow them to keep their eyes on the road while driving, in cases where non-drivers begin initiating voice commands, this technology could become dangerous.

“Back-seat drivers” could become capable of issuing voice commands when a perceived traffic hazard causes panic. Instead of just yelling, “Watch out!” the passenger could sound the horn, perhaps warning a pedestrian to get out of the way, but possibly also scaring the driver into a panic stop that could easily lead to an accident.

Or perhaps a precocious toddler or brooding teen will use voice commands to lock and unlock the doors or flash emergency lights just to get a reaction from their parents. It could be funny, but it could also be very dangerous.

It seems that it may not always be a good idea to install voice commands, especially when it enables people to executive comments in areas where they really aren’t supposed to have control.

The IoT is Becoming a Way of Life

As IoT devices become more and more widespread — an anticipated 24+ billion devices will be installed by 2020 — the way we live our lives and conduct business will be fundamentally changed. Prepare your organization with IEEE Guide to the Internet of Things (IoT). This eight-course program is led by top researchers in the field, explaining the IoT and its applications, challenges and future opportunities. Learn more about how your engineers and your entire organization can benefit from this valuable program today.


Paul, Fredric. (2018). The perils of using voice commands with IoT machines. Network World.

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