‘Bracelet of Silence’: A device to jam smart speakers’ ability to spy on conversations

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Three computer science professors from the University of Chicago, Zhao, Zheng, and Pedro Lopez, designed a “bracelet of silence” that can successfully block the Echo or any other microphones nearby from listening in on the wearer’s conversations.

The bracelet has 24 speakers that emit ultrasonic signals which can be detected by nearby microphones.

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It’s so easy to record these days,” Lopes said. “This is a useful defense. When you have something private to say, you can activate it in real-time. When they playback the recording, the sound is going to be gone.”

Most of the smart speakers have microphones that are always turned on for their functions. It also enables the device to spy on the speaker’s conversations. Even though the smart speakers were made to listen only after they were commanded to do so, instances showed that in many cases unintentional conversations were recorded by the smart speakers. So the question of privacy always pops up as regards to the advancement of technology.

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 The ‘bracelet of silence’ is not the first of its kind. Back in 2018 two designers created Project Alias which had the ability to deafen the smart speakers. But the bracelet developed by Zheng and other is portable. The bracelet successfully jams the smart speaker’s ability to listen and leaves white noise in the place of the actual conversation.

The bracelet is very easy to use, and as mentioned by its creators the user can turn on the bracelet anytime they want to have conversations of sensitive nature.

As of now, the bracelet is just a prototype and has not been made for mass production. Moreover, the bracelet also has a positive side, as the researchers mentioned that it would take about only $20 to manufacture it. Now we have to wait and see if investors are interested in commercializing this new device.  

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