21 votes

The ‘Bracelet of Silence’ that stops Alexa from eavesdropping

13 comments

  1. [5]
    HanakoIsBestGirl
    Link
    While I love the concept and would totally buy one if it were a little more discreet But I cant help but think that there would be legal issues with it. If you turned it on in public, then no one...

    While I love the concept and would totally buy one if it were a little more discreet But I cant help but think that there would be legal issues with it.

    If you turned it on in public, then no one would be able to make a call, as the microphone in their phone would not work. Emergency calls wouldnt work either. I know jammers for wireless signals are illegal, does a voice count? Or is this more equivalent to walking around with a bluetolth speaker?

    What kind of a range does it have? Just a meter or two? Or a distance more similar to how far ones voice may travel.

    9 votes
    1. [4]
      Keegan
      Link Parent
      I did think of the issues regarding signal blocking when I saw this, as that can raise extremely heavy fines. As far as blocking the microphone for emergency calls/others' calls goes, it does seem...

      I did think of the issues regarding signal blocking when I saw this, as that can raise extremely heavy fines. As far as blocking the microphone for emergency calls/others' calls goes, it does seem problematic. That's probably something that would have to be determined before this becomes a commercial product.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        asoftbird
        Link Parent
        Doesn't the FCC have rules where products may not interfere with others? This alexa blocker might not be commercially viable but it might work as open source diy thing.

        That's probably something that would have to be determined before this becomes a commercial product.

        Doesn't the FCC have rules where products may not interfere with others? This alexa blocker might not be commercially viable but it might work as open source diy thing.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          pseudolobster
          Link Parent
          Yes, but I think that only applies to radio waves. This is just sound, so it'd be akin to carrying around a bluetooth speaker that was playing a loud noise, which isn't something I think the FCC...

          Yes, but I think that only applies to radio waves. This is just sound, so it'd be akin to carrying around a bluetooth speaker that was playing a loud noise, which isn't something I think the FCC can do anything about. It's like, technically you can go around "jamming people's calls" by putting your hand over the microphone of their phone. In the end you're still blocking their communications, but not in a way that's within the purview of the FCC.

          10 votes
  2. [2]
    Keegan
    Link
    While this is too unwieldy right now to become mainstream, I certainly hope that there are eventually smaller versions that are more casual.

    While this is too unwieldy right now to become mainstream, I certainly hope that there are eventually smaller versions that are more casual.

    8 votes
    1. joplin
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Haha! Yeah, that thing is huge and hideous. I love the concept, though. I think we're reaching a point where some clear lines need to be drawn. It was one thing to say, "Well when you're walking...

      Haha! Yeah, that thing is huge and hideous. I love the concept, though.

      I think we're reaching a point where some clear lines need to be drawn. It was one thing to say, "Well when you're walking around town you have no expectation of privacy, so the closed-circuit cameras don't matter." Now it's, "I can't leave my house without my neighbors recording my movements from their doorbells and sending them across the globe. I go to a previously 'private' space, and now everyone has listening devices on them. People I'm friends with post pictures of me on social media sites where I don't have an account. This is ridiculous!"

      I like that there are options for fighting back against some of this stuff.

      14 votes
  3. [2]
    ffmike
    Link
    If someone builds this technology into a laptop bag, they can take my money. I've been contemplating firing a laser at the Ring doorbell across the street.

    If someone builds this technology into a laptop bag, they can take my money.

    I've been contemplating firing a laser at the Ring doorbell across the street.

    5 votes
    1. Keegan
      Link Parent
      I'd nicely ask the neighbor to make sure the camera is pointed downward so that it gets the street and their property in the view, but nothing on your property. I've been lucky and haven't had to...

      I'd nicely ask the neighbor to make sure the camera is pointed downward so that it gets the street and their property in the view, but nothing on your property. I've been lucky and haven't had to do that yet though.

      3 votes
  4. [2]
    SpineEyE
    Link
    Couldn't these frequencies just be filtered out?

    Couldn't these frequencies just be filtered out?

    2 votes
    1. Diff
      Link Parent
      Seems like that's not possible if the frequency is above the microphone's maximum frequency, it'll always cause artifacts to appear. Although if it's within the mic's frequency range then yeah it...

      Seems like that's not possible if the frequency is above the microphone's maximum frequency, it'll always cause artifacts to appear. Although if it's within the mic's frequency range then yeah it can just be filtered out easily.

      2 votes
  5. [2]
    balooga
    Link
    If the goal is to block a known Echo device from eavesdropping but not interfere with other devices like cellphones in the area, why use a bracelet form factor? Seems like a better option would...

    If the goal is to block a known Echo device from eavesdropping but not interfere with other devices like cellphones in the area, why use a bracelet form factor? Seems like a better option would sit directly on the Echo's mic. It could emit the same ultrasonic frequencies but at a lower volume that wouldn't bleed into the surrounding area.

    1. chkiss
      Link Parent
      That's actually the exact reason they developed the bracelet.

      That's actually the exact reason they developed the bracelet.

      In 2018, two designers created Project Alias, an appendage that can be placed over a smart speaker to deafen it. But Ms. Zheng argues that a jammer should be portable to protect people as they move through different environments, given that you don’t always know where a microphone is lurking.

      2 votes