USA TODAY Tech columnist Kim Komando explains how to keep your devices from listening to what you say. This Monday, June 19, 2017, photo shows Facebook launched on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass. Yes, voice technology is amazing. You can ask your phone a question. You can talk to your speaker system and even book an Uber.
Smart speakers, like Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri, have come under fire over the past few years for'listening' to its owner's conversations. Now, a team of scientists believe they have developed the ultimate weapon to block the devices' spying abilities - a wearable that jams the microphone. Dubbed the'bracelet of silence', the chunky bracelet is fitted with 23 speakers around it that emit ultrasonic signals that drown out any speech of the wearer. While these ultrasonic signals are undetectable to human ears, they leak into the audible spectrum after being captured by the microphones, producing a jamming signal inside the microphone circuit disrupts voice recordings. Scientists developed the ultimate weapon to block the devices' spying abilities - a wearable that jams the microphone.
You're cool chatting up Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant and Siri and having each come alive when you utter the "Alexa," "Hey, Google" or "Hey, Siri" wake words. But your kids are also engaging with the popular digital voices inside the smart speakers in your home and your big concern has mostly to do with privacy. Amazon and Google really cornered the smart speaker market. That's the chief takeaway from a new study, exclusive to USA TODAY and conducted in February, by Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey Audience. Robocall crackdown: FTC continues robocall crackdown, stops groups responsible for'billions' of calls More than 4 in 10 of the 1,127 parents of children ages 2 to 8 who participated in the survey say their family uses a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Amazon and Google really do want to watch your every move. A series of patents filed by the firms'outline an array of possibilities' for how their smart speakers could be used to better listen in on users. They suggest their always-on Google Home and Amazon Echo devices could know everything from a user's mood to their medical condition, and target advertising based on this data. The development comes amid a growing scandal involving the handling of the private data of 50 million users by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Google has filed a patent application for a system that used its smart speakers and camera to spy on a user's mood or medical condition.