New device prevents virtual assistants from eavesdropping
Let’s be honest: in this high-tech world, we’re all a little paranoid about “Siri” and “Alexa” listening to what we say, and then reporting it. And with tens of millions of smart devices in homes around the world, security is a bigger concern than ever. So far, there’s been at least one documented case of an Alexa device eavesdropping on a conversation, but the developers of a new tech gadget say that’s one too many, and they’re doing something about it.
It’s called “Project Alias” – a new user-driven project aimed at helping prevent our virtual assistants from hearing everything we say. The team behind it refers to “Alias” as a teachable parasite, because of the way it sits on top of the speaker section of your virtual assistant, like Google Home or Amazon Echo, and lets you be in control of more than just what it can hear.
For now, “Alias” is a home-grown product. You build the device yourself, then 3-D print the case so it sits perfectly over the speaker of your virtual assistant. “Alias” is open source, meaning easy-to-follow directions for both the device and the case are available online now for free. Once the device is on the speaker, it plays white noise, so the virtual assistant can’t hear you. You can also say goodbye to those clunky names like “Siri,” because “Alias” lets you give your assistant whatever name you like. When you call it by its new name, “Alias” simply stops the white noise and passes the appropriate trigger word to let your virtual assistant hear you again.
Because of the open-source nature of the project, you can only build “Alias” at home. But project creators say with a little investment, we could be seeing it in stores, sooner rather than later.