Bjørn Karmann, and Tore Knudsen do not feel paranoid. But you don’t want to be listened to secretly. Messages like the one about Amazon’s smart speaker Echo from the past may have made the two Danes thoughtful. At the time, a Couple of claimed in the United States, the virtual assistant Alexa in the Echo speaker was enabled unnoticed, your private conversation is recorded and this recording to someone else and sent. Karmann and Knudsen do not want such incidents as rare and unlikely as they may be – prevent. With a newly developed device called the Alias, which they refer to as the artificial parasites.

Alias sits on the Smart speakers type Amazon Echo or Google Home, and to keep these under control. Firstly, by enabling the owners to activate your Echo, or Home with any new word. Amazon and Google give users so far, only very little room for manoeuvre. They only allow “Alexa”, “Echo”, “Amazon” or “Computer” or “OK Google” and “Hey Google”. Thanks to Alias it may be, for example, “Friedrich Wilhelm”, or “boss” or a noise.

Secondly, to Alias, to prevent the speakers are unnoticed and unintentionally active, if someone says something that sounds like “Alexa”, “Echo” or “OK Google”. German consumer advocates had noted last year that something like this can happen, for example, when you say “Alexandra”, “Gecko” or “OK cake” and then the Light on the speaker to notice that.

The Whole thing should be possible, because of the Alias, in principle, a Smart Speaker. Under his cap, the reminiscent of, depending on the desire of a molten plastic or fungal growth, put a mini-computer, microphones, and speakers. Via the accompanying Smartphone App, you can teach Alias any activation word, by which the device is activated, if the user pronounce it.

as Long as this activation is not pronounced word-but, sonicated Alias from the outside is not audible – the device from Google or Amazon over its speaker with a noise. The is composed of artificially generated, overlapping voices.

In the language tangle, the U.S.-devices see nothing, therefore, remain inactive, even if someone says your manufacturer’s specified activation word. The Alias activation word, the synthetic chatter is stopped, and also known as the actual Amazon or Google whispers the activation word into the microphones below him, the virtual assistant to turn on.

Karmann and Knudsen distrust of large technology companies generally, write to you in an E-Mail to the MIRROR. “At least not so much so that we would not use their products at all. But we try, reflects on the role of such company in our life, and how she shapes it, to think about.” It’ll give you “the feeling, to keep in the age of smart home appliances control”.


that is Why Alias is also an Open-Source project. Instructions, to be exact. It requires, among other things, access to a 3D printer, a soldering iron, a mini-computer type Raspberry Pi, a microphone attachment, and two small speakers and a bit of Practice in dealing with command lines and text editors. Say: Alias is not a finished product that you can buy, and will be none. “We want the big companies to write Alias to learning and appropriate features in their products to integrate”, the two Danish designers and artists.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.