Do Samsung TVs Have Microphones?
Probably one of the more disturbing privacy policies ever put to paper comes directly from Samsung: “If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through the use of Voice Recognition.” With that said, you may be wondering if Samsung TVs have microphones, how to use them if so, and whether this feature should be a cause for concern.
That doesn’t mean that all Samsung TVs have microphones—because they don’t—but you can rest assured that some do. If your Samsung TV features Voice Recognition software, then you definitely have microphones. Read on to learn more.
Smart TV manufacturers have seen a considerable consumer movement towards video conferencing and video calls, most of which take place on smartphones, computers, and tablets.
While some of this is directly correlated with the pandemic, as more people are spending more time in their homes, much of it is related to advancements in technology that consumers are embracing, since microphones and cameras in smart TVs are just as much pre-pandemic as they are post.
Mostly, the microphones in a Samsung Smart TV are used for the following:
- Setting up Bixby, Alexa, and Google Assistant
- Menu Navigation
- Phone calls
- Video/conferencing calls
- Third-party marketing
Many Samsung TVs utilize microphones installed directly into the remote rather than the TV itself, while others have both. Menu navigation is the predominant use for microphones, and most consumers likely use it for that, along with playing streaming services.
Is it Safe to Leave the Samsung TV Microphone On?
In February of 2015, a formal complaint was filed with the Federal Trade Commission that accused Samsung of using their microphones to gather and share private voice recordings with third parties.
This happened only days after Digital Trends vociferously defended Samsung, claiming that such things absolutely never happened. Not much has come out regarding the outcome of the complaint, but it’s enough to make one wary of Samsung microphones.
Additionally, in 2017, CNBC reported on a Wikileaks drop that centered on a CIA program known as “Weeping Angel,” that is designed to utilize the software and hardware in Samsung devices—along with Apple, Android, and Sony devices—to turn on the mics and cams in smart TVs, among other devices.
The degree of truth in much of these revelations is often left up to individual perspectives and how consumers feel about their own privacy, how it is collected, and how it is shared. At the end of the day, Samsung TVs are often equipped with microphones (and some cameras), but they can be disabled if you feel more comfortable doing so.
If you’re concerned with the usage of your privacy, you will need to go into the settings and turn the microphone off, along with ACR (Automatic Content Recognition):
To turn off the microphone on newer Samsung TVs:
- On the Home menu, select Settings.
- Select System.
- Expert Settings.
- Voice Interaction.
- Select Off.
To turn off the microphone on older Samsung TV models:
- Go to Settings.
- Select Smart Features.
- Select Voice Recognition.
- Select Off.
You can also choose not to agree with the Samsung Terms and Policies:
- Go to Settings.
- Select Support.
- Select Terms and Policies.
- Disagree with Viewing Information Services.
- Disagree with Voice Recognition Services.
- Disagree with Nuance Voice Recognition.
- Disagree with Privacy Notices.
How to Set Up Voice Assistants with Samsung TV Microphones
Suppose you don’t mind the potential moral or legal problems involved with privacy issues. In that case, you’re more than welcome to utilize Samsung’s microphones and leverage them to further expand your smart home and virtual assistant capability.
To set up the Bixby voice assistant that comes standard with Samsung devices:
- Go to Settings.
- Select General > Voice.
- Select Voice Assistant > Bixby.
- Select Bixby Voice Settings for personal preferences.
- Select Settings.
- Select General.
- Select Voice.
- Select Voice Assistant > Alexa.
- Select Alexa > Ok.
The Samsung TV will give you a QR code that you will need to scan, which will take you to your Amazon account to sign in. Once you sign in, you will follow a set of instructions on the TV to finish activating Alexa.
After Alexa is activated, the Samsung TV will now act as if it is an Echo device.
The technology that goes into these TVs and the voice interactions is convenient and incredible technology for consumers to take advantage of in their homes. It’s a shame that there is such a heightened level of privacy violations.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether or not you want to keep your Samsung TV microphones on. Carefully read through the terms and policies and always protect yourself if you feel like it is too much by turning off the microphones.