Reminds me of an old ‘Clicker’ game my classmate played in a browser. The developer hadn’t hidden any of the code, so by opening up the browser’s developer console you could just see what commands were happening and add your own.
My vote is for a product that I have just learned of in this morning’s paper: web enabled sex toys. We are talking about battery-powered vibrational joy with a wireless link. I gather that the device doesn’t have direct satellite or phone access but the web connection is mediated by your wireless router or perhaps hand held device. The way it works is that one partner ‘installs’ it and the other controls it, potentially from anywhere in the world. Do you get a discount for buying two? Adds new meaning to ‘long distance relationship’.
To keep this thread P13 I will not speculate on all the ways that this could be weird but just say that security would need to be good as hacking could produce unexpected results.
Given that the sex industry has led the charge in technical innovation (think back to the VCR, for instance) this is no surprise.
If you’re more interested in the relationship, there is always this heartbeat transmitting wristband - which transmits your heartbeat to its partner over the Internet. It actually got Kickstarter funded!
What could possibly go wrong?
Wowsers! With due credit to Inspect G.
A voice controlled cooking device, aka kitchen aid, or domestic goddess?
I am all too frequently reminded voice control is inappropriate for the kitchen, in particular when I am cooking and doing things differently or equally when it is not my turn.
I can see Alexa might have to respond to that situation more diplomatically. How would you like your green beans, soft and gelatinous or crisp and crunchy?
Whose side will Alexa be on?
Event though I wouldn’t buy one or use Alexa and its equivalents, I can see merits in a voice activated appliance such as this.
Quite often for dinner parties or when cooking up a feast, one has hands in something else when something needs to be turned on…say for example plucking a chook when the steamed pudding needs to be turned on. Having a voice activated device would allow one to continue to prepare other foods without interruption (such as washing hands, pushing buttons and then remembering where one left off with the dish being prepared).
One could just sing our ‘Alexa, please cook the pudding’ or what ever voice commands are needed to activate the appliance. One could even ask for the cooking to commence at a predetermined time to ensure it is not forgotten.
Could also be good in a restaurant environment where staff are run off their feet during peak times and the foods could be placed in preparation time and activated quickly with a voice command.
The other option which I will stick to is be better prepared/organised.
Yes, as long as it does not require access to the internet i.e. is not a ‘bug’ installed in your house transmitting your every word to Big Tech and beyond, potentially.
As far as I know, Alexa won’t work without Internet access. That’s what the WiFi is for.
I think you are right - hence why I would never use Alexa or the Google / Apple / … equivalents.
Technically the WiFi could be simply for communicating between the cooking device and the Alexa in-home device. That is legitimate (within the limitations of “who actually needs their cooking device to be network connected?”).
If Alexa were able to follow voice instructions without sending the audio off to Amazon then that architecture might make sense i.e. have enough grunt in Alexa to process audio into words and process words into the underlying (spoken) commands - and then have Alexa send the required computer commands off to each relevant household device (commands for monitoring status and for control).
This sort of rubbish (network-connected cooking device) should be banned in Australia pending an independent security assessment. As you started out by saying “what could possibly go wrong?” and the answer is … if time-to-market / feature-bloat are made higher priorities than security then a lot could go wrong. Worst case someone could burn your house down remotely.
A lot of IoT devices have been found to be extremely lax when it comes to security.
The reason voice assistants require an internet connection at all times is the AI database they pull from is server side. Without that database they can’t do much.
In turn this allows developers to make the AI better by knowing how people talk to it. Different developers handle this differently though. Apple for example says all data is encrypted on the device and then anonymized before being sent to Apple. Alexa doesn’t offer the same I don’t believe.
Personally I’m only just becoming convinced of the merits of the tech, but I certainly wouldn’t touch Alexa or Google Assistant because it’s hard to limit what they can access.
As for the security protocols of connected tech, Choice recommends getting a router with a ‘Guest’ network and having all IoT devices on that. That way no one can use it as a gateway to your information.
I understand that logic and it is not terrible from a design point of view (it is just terrible from a privacy and security point of view). On the other hand, in this day and age, this ‘database’ should be able to reside within the house, even if it has to be on a different box that sits in a cupboard. How much grunt do you need? How much storage do you need?
While that is reasonable advice … I suggest making sure that (i.e. testing that) it actually works as Choice intends it.
For example, my router offers the possibility of multiple wireless networks (multiple SSIDs) and even has a flag on each of the secondary networks for “Clients Isolation” but a wireless device connected that way can be pinged by a wired device on the network and the wireless device connected that way can access (e.g.) wired web servers on the network. So I don’t know what exactly is being isolated. (The manual suggests that it is “wireless devices” from each other - which in many cases will achieve not a lot towards the stated goal of preventing IoT devices accessing my information.)
In my case it wouldn’t work to isolate fully anyway because the DNS server is on the wired network and many random in-home wireless devices will use the supplied DNS server IP address and need it to be working.
However just because the recommended configuration is not readily achievable for me doesn’t make the advice bad advice.
Or hack the device while it’s in pressure-cooker mode:
OK, slight exaggeration.
Ever so slight I noticed from that pic…just a smallish tad over
Depends what’s cooking!
In 2015 the name Alexa was allegedly the 32nd most popular girl’s name in the US. I don’t think some of these parents have adequately considered the potential problems they have created for themselves and their daughters. I also feel Amazon deserves a little blame for its choice of ‘wake’ command.
I recommend reading the text accompanying that Siri link, as an amusing piece of computer-generated non-analysis.
Consider those names could be chosen as future pranks. Those having Alexa’s in the family will not buy an Alexa, nor will those with Siri’s have an Apple product. But when their children are visiting friends it could get interesting, even exciting.
The Pavlok 2 aims to ‘break bad habits via zaptic feedback’. Please don’t tell my wife about this device
(credit to @RodneyBerry for the find)
Your secret is safe with us. She would let you take it off to go to work wouldn’t she?
I have my doubts
A neighbour has something similar on the dog that reminds it when it gets too close to a wire hanging off the fence. There is a wide band of untrodden grass adjacent to it. Not sure what it does to the dog? Hopefully no need to keep an eye on the front fence just in case?