Digital noisemakers prevents your Alexa or Google Home to listen when you don’t want them to.
Project Alias is a 3D-printed “parasite” that can be mounted on digital assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa and ensures that tech giants cannot listen within your home.
27-year-old Bjørn Karmann and 26-year-old Tore Knudsen have been the rave in tech-media lately because of their latest invention: Project Alias.
The product is a 3D-printed, sponge-like “parasite” that is placed on the digital assistants Google Home or Amazon Alexa. The parasite whispers white noise and nonsense into the assistant’s microphone and confuses the robot so that the consumer ensures that the tech giants cannot listen in your home.
Normally, the assistants are activated by an activation word. In Google’s case, it’s “Hey Google” and in Amazon’s “Alexa”. With Project Alias, the user himself selects the activation word, which can be anything from “Gandalf” to “Aadwark”.
If you say the word, Project Alias stops sending noise through the assistant’s speaker and activates the assistant so it works as intended and picks up the user’s voice and can solve the task it is being asked. Then Project Alias again plays noise into the microphone.
“Project Alias is about giving the user control over the products and turning power over to the consumer’s advantage so you feel you have ownership and control. We were a little inspired by nature, because it is what parasites do. They take over another animal. Alias does not hack the device from within, it’s something that sits on the outside, “says Bjørn Karmann.
The two inventors have made Project Alias as a hobby project in their spare time, but they emphasize that the product should be considered a critical input in the debate on data security. And the attention has proved that they seem to have hit a nerve.
“Hacking a Google Home is really hard. It’s a very closed system that doesn’t invite people to mess with it or hack it. Therefore, they have tried to find some other directions, and it has become this kind of intermediary that shuts down the microphones in Google Home or Alexa, and only opens up when you decides ” says Tore Knudsen.
The parasitic allegory was there from the beginning, and it was important for them to maintain the humorous approach in the project, which can also be seen in the mushroom-like design.
“It sounds pretty bleak that a parasite goes in and takes over Google Home, and we’ve also developed Project Alias for a serious reason. But many can’t help but smile because it looks a little fun, or when they hear it “whispers” to Google and burns some noise into the microphone, “says Bjørn Karmann.
Regrettably the device will not be mass produced and sold but there are manuals for the geeks.