With the current COVID-19 situation, many of us are spending more time at home and using devices that are connected to the Internet to work, shop, communicate with loved ones, or for entertainment. All of our devices being connected to the Internet can create many conveniences, but can also create privacy issues.
Devices such as an Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod are all gadgets that can connect to the Internet to make tasks easier. Smart speakers can allow people to make their home more convenient to live in and for individuals with disabilities can allow them to live independently.
Smart speakers enable you to connect to apps and devices that will allow you to control them with just a voice command. This capability can allow someone to set up devices that can control their home environment, which would allow someone to do tasks such as control the lights, turn up/down the thermostat, or unlock the doors. These smart devices also allow you to use these speakers and voice commands to do things such as make phone calls, control a television, online shop, schedule calendar appointments, and set an alarm or reminders and so much more.
The ability to make things accessible by voice command comes at a cost of the smart speakers always listening, which can be a privacy concern. In a response to these concerns, a company called, Paranoid, has now come up with a device that will block smart speakers from listening while they remain voice-activated so they can continue to be available for voice command. Paranoid has three different devices: Paranoid Home Button, Paranoid Home Wave, and Paranoid Home Max.
The Paranoid Home Button is USB-powered button pusher that attaches to a smart speaker’s mute button. The button pushes the mute button and then re-engages it after someone has used a voice command. This would require the smart speaker to have a physical mute button that can be pressed. The home button can be programmed to say, “mute has been turned on/off” or be configured to say nothing.
Secondly, the Paranoid Home Wave is a device that discreetly generates interference and noise when it is in close proximity to the smart speaker’s microphone. This noise “jams” the smart speaker from hearing anything until a “wake word” command is given by the user. Once the wake word is given, the device temporarily stops the jamming to allow the speaker to hear the voice command. The noise that is generated by the Paranoid Home Wave is not audible to the human ear and will not cause any disruption.
Lastly, the Paranoid Home Max allows a user to send their device to one of Paranoid’s service centers where a technician can internally configure the device. The technician will take the smart speaker and physically cut the microphone and send the signal to go directly through the Paranoid circuit, which would be built-in to the smart speaker.
If you are a smart speaker user who is concerned about your privacy, a Paranoid device just might be for you. Click here to learn more about these devices.