If you are worried about smart devices eavesdropping on you, there may be a solution of sorts in the works in the form of a smart device jamming bracelet. Well, “bracelet” is more of a euphemism for the prototype; it’s more like a futuristic war cuff.
According to Engadget, University of Chicago researchers have built an experimental bracelet that uses ultrasonic broadcasts from 24 speakers to jam most microphones, no matter what direction they’re in. The gadget takes advantage of non-linearities in its built-in amplifier to ‘leak’ ultrasonic noise into the audible range and render recordings useless. It not only ensures omnidirectional jamming, it eliminates blind spots (where transducers cancel each other out) through your wrist movement. As a result, it’s more effective than dedicated stationary jammers and can even scramble hidden mics. It’s an intelligibility nightmare.
The scientists told the New York Times that investors have asked about commercializing the technology, which can apparently be built for about $20. This could be viable for anyone who fears eavesdropping from voice assistants or spies, especially for people who tend to move from room to room.
Of course it’s totally impractical. Having people roaming around randomly disrupting other people’s phones and other mic-dependent devices is obviously unacceptable. I wish there was a way to avoid constant surveillance, but I don’t think this is it.
I also thought it was interesting that as our industry innovates better and better ways to capture people’s voices, someone is figuring out how to defeat that.
WATCH THE DEMO VIDEO: