This little speaker-cap hacks your smart speaker to give you back your privacy

Project Alias looks and behaves like a parasitic fungus, in the sense that it latches onto its host, feeding off it and inhibiting its functions for its own gain. It may sound a little extreme, but it does it all for the sake of privacy. Smart speakers now sit in one out of three American homes… and while they’re great in terms of convenience, they’re a privacy nightmare. Smart speakers are always listening in on everything you say or do around your home, and companies create databases and profiles based on the tonnes of information they collect to sell ads and products to you. The two largest players in the market, Amazon and Google, literally have business models that revolve around harvesting personal data to sell to the highest bidder, which in turn sell you products and or services.

The Project Alias device sits atop the smart speaker, like a fungal growth, blocking out its microphones, so that the speaker can’t listen to you. However, when you do want to access the smart speaker, say a keyword and the Project Alias lets your command through to the speaker, effectively deafening the home assistant when you don’t want it listening, and bringing it to life when you do.

Designers Bjørn Karmann & Tore Knudsen designed Project Alias as a defense tactic, and modeled it on a fungal species that aptly captures the way the parasitic product behaves. “This [fungus] is a vital part of the rain forest, since whenever a species gets too dominant or powerful it has higher chances of getting infected, thus keeping the diversity in balance,” says Tore Knudsen. “We wanted to take that as an analogy and show how DIY and open source can be used to create ‘viruses’ for big tech companies.”

The project is an entirely open-source piece of tech that contains a 3D printed outer housing, a Raspberry Pi board, a microphone (for your voice commands), a set of speakers (that block out the home assistant’s internal microphones with a static), and a line of commands that are all readily available on GitHub, although I’d totally spring for a ready-made version of this. I imagine it won’t be long before companies begin building and selling their own Project Aliases, but then again, that goes against what the project stands for in the first place.

Assemble the product, plug it into a power source and you’re ready to go. The product sits on top of a Google Home or Echo, covering its microphones, while speaker modules inside the Project Alias produce a white noise that prevents the home assistant from hearing anything. In order to communicate with the home assistant, you can set your own catchphrase that the Alias recognizes. Program it to respond to “Hey Brad” or “Hey Speaker”, or “Hey data-mining corporation” (if you’re a bit of a nihilist), and the Alias picks up on the cue, triggering the home assistant to listen to the rest of your command. The Alias’ voice command recognition feature works locally and the device doesn’t connect to the internet or store any information on the cloud, making it perfectly safe and secure, allowing you to hack your smart speakers to work perfectly well without them invading your privacy, and preventing mega-corporations from gathering any further data on you and your personal lives. And there’s a side advantage to this too. You can now rename your smart speaker to pretty much anything you want, rather than being restricted to “Hey Google” or “Hey Alexa”. Rather cool, isn’t it?

Designers: Bjørn Karmann & Tore Knudsen

Click Here to build your own Project Alias

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Click Here to build your own Project Alias

Health and beauty tech continues to fail pregnant women

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These 2D perspectives unfold to form 3D furniture

Remember all the time spent creating a perspective drawing and trying to get those angles right? Well, this 2D form turned furniture will take you back to those moments with pure nostalgia!

South Korean designer Jongha Choi has created a line of space-saving furniture that can be hung on your wall when not in use. The collection, named “De-Dimensions” plays with visual forms, transforming a two-dimensional form into a functional three-dimensional object. Comprising of a stool and a table, each element can be folded away when not in use, making it an ideal choice for the increasing micro homes we see in the future. The furniture uses of mechanical fasteners that pop out to hold the aluminum frames in place and hold the three-dimensional form.

Describing his design process, Choi states that with the advent of 3D printing and moving towards more complex forms and structures, his idea is to challenge the older yet persistent flat dimension by questioning an images’ confinement to a flat surface.

Mr. Choi’s inspiration for this design comes from a weakness in one of his eyes, that compelled him to observe the world in a manner unique than the others. And as we see, De-Dimensions artfully plays with the objects, seamlessly transferring and blurring the lines of perspective, by looking like an interesting visual element when hanging on a wall to converting into a functional object when needed. A very interesting twist to the non-physical Virtual Reality space with these designs in play!

Designer: Jongha Choi

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These security cameras are monitored by AI as well as a human surveillance team

Do you remember that viral video of the engineer that designed this glitter bomb for parcel-thieves? It was this over-engineered box that contained a motor, a centrifugal cup with glitter, a fart-bomb, and four smartphones that recorded the incredibly cathartic experience of seeing your parcel thief open the box only to be doused in glitter and sprayed with fart-spray. Thieves would see an unsuspecting box on a porch and pick it up. Once they opened it, the motor would trigger, sending glitter flying everywhere, and also actuating the fart bomb, giving the thief an appropriately frustrating lesson. Most thieves would immediately dispose of the box after they were ‘punished’ and the designer would use the smartphones’ GPS to locate his decoy glitter-box-of-justice.

While this glitterbomb box was designed as a purely vengeful tactic, it was the result of the engineer, Mark Rober, being a victim of parcel theft in the first place. Rober designed the glitter-bomb after being a victim to parcel theft. He was at work when an Amazon executive delivered a parcel to his porch. Hours later, a random woman appeared on the porch, picked up the parcel, and walked off casually. Rober had security cameras that captured the act of theft, but that’s all they did. He watched helplessly as the footage showed a guy come and make off with his delivery, while there was nothing he could do.

Imagine a world where that entire scenario could be avoided. That’s the world that Deep Sentinel is trying to create. The company develops security cameras and AI that set up a security perimeter around your house, but that’s not all they do. Deep Sentinel doesn’t just record any criminal activity… it prevents it. Behind the camera and the security hub is Deep Sentinel’s growing team of surveillance guards who tirelessly sit and monitor footage. They instantly get an alert when something seems off, like if a stranger is approaching your window, or trying to pry open your door. The ‘LiveSentinel Surveillance Guards’ have a two-step procedure for dealing with this. Deep Sentinel’s cameras also come with a speaker module, allowing the agents to warn the criminals to stop. As the criminal looks at the camera, Deep Sentinel’s agents send the evidence to the nearest police station, calling for help. The system relies on three components that work together to make it incredibly successful. A. Artificial intelligence that detects people, animals and objects and interprets behavior in real time, segregating friendlies from non-friendlies, B. a team of guards or Sentinels that bring the element of human reconnaissance to the experience, and finally, C. the police force, which gets alerted promptly and with the necessary evidence.

The Deep Sentinel unit comes in two parts. A hub, which houses its own processor that records, analyzes, and stores the security footage, alerting the LiveSentinels only when necessary, and the main camera itself, which comes with a high-definition 1080p camera, 850nm Infrared LEDs for night vision, a 130° field of view, a loudspeaker module, and an alert LED ring, all wrapped into a weatherproof IP65 casing that allows the camera to work in practically any weather. The setup also comes devoid of extraneous wires and such and runs on batteries, making setting up an absolute dream, and allowing you to swiftly and effectively deploy the most efficient security team of Human and AI to guard your home at all times!

Designer: Ammunition Group for Deep Sentinel

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