Mute the microphones around you
An undeniable reality is that every day there are more microphones around us. We have them on phones, smart watches, speakers, even Smart TVs. There are many and varied products that integrate them, and although the idea is good not everyone trusts.
Because it’s true, although these microphones should only capture and process what we say when they wake up with the classic «Ok Google» «Alexa» or «Hey Siri», the truth is that they are always active waiting to hear that command. Therefore, not everyone likes it. Even less after the occasional controversy.
Well, for that most suspicious public of your privacy is this device. A bracelet that a team of researchers from the University of Chicago has created to prevent any microphone near the carrier from hearing what is being said. How do you do it? Well, with the use of ultrasound.
Surrounded by several loudspeakers, these emit these ultra sounds omlidirectionally. In addition, blind spots are avoided along with the movement of the wrist during a conversation and the effectiveness is what they themselves show in the following video.
At the moment the bracelet is activated, the audio captured by the microphone fails, as if it were not connected properly and the only thing it captures is interference. That interference is what the ultrasound, sounds that are emitted at high frequencies, above the spectrum that a person is able to hear.
Pedro Lopes, one of the members of the development team explains in more detail the operation and links to a document where you can find more technical aspects.
Want to build your own? Want to simulate different configurations of ultrasonic jammers? Yuxin Chen put together an amazing suite to simulate this: https://t.co/BqNpQZ5xRo #openscience # chi2020 Before @tengshanyuan , Steven and I built the device we relied on these simulations!
– Pedro Lopes (@plopesresearch) February 14, 2020
Logically this is neither more nor less than a prototype. Whether or not it makes sense as a commercial product is something that will be seen later. Moreover, beforehand, they would have to solve some problems such as the minimum size that can be achieved for such a system and that is convenient for the user to use.
Even so, If you are worried about your privacy and want to prevent others from hearing you, it’s not bad at all. Of course, if so, there are already similar solutions and simple methods that you can carry out so that no one gets sensitive information from your words. For example, not having so many devices with microphones, deactivating or mutating them and, in the worst case, communicating in other ways when the information is really sensitive.