Subscribe to these weekly emails here
This week I’m testing out the Alexagate from MSCHF.
The device sits atop your Echo device and uses 7 ultrasonic speakers to jam your Echo’s mic so it can’t hear you say “Alexa…” or ANYTHING ELSE.
Why not just unplug your Echo if you’re worried about Amazon eavesdropping?
Don’t ask stupid questions.
You can turn the jamming on/off by clapping three times. The ultrasound device is beyond the range of adult human hearing, but I was a little worried about my dogs. Luckily, they don’t seem to mind.
The device isn’t really a mainstream utility, of course. Instead, it helps provoke a conversation about surveillance and sousvelliance (the recording of oneself, on purpose). And education. And privacy. And trust.
There’s a reason that Facebook Portals come with a plastic clip to block the camera lens and new Echo Shows have a physical camera lens blocker on a sliding switch.
Alexagate already prompted a number of conversations about the topic in my home: Who is listening? Where is that data stored? How can we access it? Have we said anything we shouldn’t or wouldn’t if it was made public? Even if we have software-side control of our data, do we trust the hardware? And the companies behind it?
Of course, this tension is exacerbated by the Echos in my other rooms that are still listening and being triggered by “Alexa” even when this one is jammed. And my Echo Auto. And my Alexa Echo Loop smart ring. And my new Alexa Frames glasses (review coming soon). It’s a thing at the Swan house.
Buy an Alexagate for your home here.
Recommended Reads from Greg:
- Alexa on your finger: the Amazon Loop smart ring
- Want to add Alexa to your car: try Echo Auto
- Touring an Amazon Fulfillment Center
- Alexa: the 5th Family Member
- Microsoft’s 1999 Home of the Future Has Almost Come True
- Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck’s Version of the Automated Home, Circa 1954