Your home has a set of smart devices, whether it be smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, smart displays like the Lenovo Smart Clock, or multiple security cameras and video doorbells outside, a common part of living in a connected modern home. We can use voice commands to dim the light, turn on the thermostat, or even change the channel on our smart TV – and we can change the number of interfaces with our various gadgets and toys Can see the explosion.
When you are a technology journalist, however, the smart meter goes up to 11 – and your personal costs are when you’re living with people who don’t share your level of comfort around intelligent devices.
I have reviewed many smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo Plus, or (my personal favorite and running music friend) Pure DiscovR – and I also have a bunch of affiliate smart plugs and security cameras on the site, just to make sure That the different devices work together. Therefore, the number of wires, plugs, and speakers packed into my shelves and cupboards is, at times, a bit embarrassing, especially when I’m ever going to set up only one or two devices at any one time.
My previous flatmate made it clear that when I would not walk out of communal spaces in “Alexa”, out of privacy concerns. Not that the two geeks in their 20s were worth listening to between Halo and anime binge sessions, but the theory still stood: why would anyone be okay with constantly overheating, when it’s not even a device they Do you plan to use?
My partner prefers to use ‘dumb’ Bluetooth speakers, which don’t even appear on us, and that means carefully arranging any test period or new device setup, so that someone else’s home security Do not compromise the spirit of
The privacy problem
Many privacy scandals around mainstream smart devices have been dismissed as paranoia. There are security bugs that let hackers listen in private conversations, reports of Amazon employees listening to user conversations, and hack vulnerabilities in smart locks – while reports of data breaches in Amazon-owned rings and live camera feeds by employees Both have been encircled with. .
To take voice commands, Alexa speakers and likes have to listen all the time anyway, and a study by researchers at Northeastern University and Imperial College London has found that they can be accidentally activated 19 times a day.
When it comes to smart speakers, devices with designs are meant to sit in the background, unless they are necessary, it is easy for me to forget them in the vicinity. (Waiting, listening, plotting and liking.)
Using many of them in a professional capacity means that I can forget the sickness surrounding their appearance in personal places. It is hard to feel precious about my own data or privacy, when I have to sign up on countless technology platforms with my personal details in the name of testing and reviewing.
The compromise I often make is using only muted smart speakers – something that is relatively easy to do, although this is their most convenient feature, which is voice commands. If I have to go and unmute to talk about it, why not search it on my phone, or use a less advanced Bluetooth speaker?
Pure DiscovR is a physical way to disconnect the microphone, although it also limits the volume and bass frequencies – meaning I have to choose between audio quality and personal privacy when considering the feature.
Beware of our devices, and the companies making them always seem sensible. Amazon, Google and the like are essentially serving their own interests, even if they are offering convenient products and services at the same time – and user data is a big part of how these companies monetize their products. Is part of.
But given how prevalent smart devices are, the pressure to accept the potential for invasion of privacy is increasing – and this is a pressure I am exerting, closely, on those around me. When we choose to take smart devices and voice assistants into our lives, it is very easy to end that decision on behalf of our family, friends and flatmates – and at this point it is very difficult to see our collective acceptance backwards is.
Not convinced? Visit our best smart speaker guide and start chatting on your devices