back to article Forget your deepest, darkest secrets, smart speakers will soon listen for sniffles and farts too

Smart speakers will listen for your farts, yawns and sneezes and analyse it to sell you stuff, a British AI company hopes. Audio Analytic's goal is to "map the entire world of sounds beyond speech and music", which it claimed will "open up new service or subscription-based revenue streams for the world's most innovative …

  1. Alan Bourke

    Bollocks to this creepy shit.

    You might as well invite an ad industry rep in to sit in your living room taking notes, while leaving the front door open for passing hackers.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

      That is exactly the analogy (plus camera, recorder etc.) I use when asking people why they've bought one of these voice activated things. They usually look shocked for a minute, then mumble, "But Alexa..." or some such.

      And they're not thick. So what's going on?

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

        "And they're not thick. So what's going on?"

        I wonder the same thing, but I'm not so sure about the "not thick" part. We are all idiots, after all. Not all the time in all circumstances, but given the right circumstances...

        I don't personally know a single person who uses these things, though, and I've often wondered how I'd react if one of my friends or family did? I'd certainly ask how it is they're OK with it, and would probably stop going to their house.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

          I don't know, I noticed my brother got one and I think at this point you could start a company called Ingsoc and build a speaker that responded to "big brother" or "the party" and it would likely fly off the shelves.

          I can see it now, "big brother, how long until two minutes hate?"

        2. Big John Silver badge

          Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

          > "So what's going on?"

          The connected life was supposed to connect us more, and so it has. But only to far away people, and perforce, it subtracts from quality time with those nearby. So maybe these voices coming from the speakers are filling a void in some people's lives? If so, that's pretty depressing.

        3. mattje

          Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

          And they could probably ask you why your bringing your smartphone that is tracking exactly where you are, what you've bought and which sites you've visited into their house.

          Also, have you used the proper precautions for commenting on this article? you know, TOR, VPN etc?

      2. rdhood

        Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

        I'll tell you whats going on: People LIKE the idea of a smart speaker. They like that it can voice control automation. They like that it cant deliver information on commmand. What they DONT like is that almost every single piece of information goes through a central computer that records EVERYTHING. At this point, it is really going to be recording EVERYTHING , and not just a few seconds of shit after someone yells "Alexa". Suddenly, every sound in the damn room is a key for your speaker to report back to central command, which means it would record virutally all the time.

        We want the smart speaker that works without the internet and a direct connection to Google/Facebook/Amazon

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

          So you want a hypercomputer that fits in your pocket. More likely the Earth explodes first...

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

      Just f***ing no. A thousand times NO. If it isn't the Googlites it's someone else... CCTV, tracking while browsing, the TLA's and FLA's. Enough is enough. I'm for modifying Shakespeare's quote: "First we kill all the marketers.".

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

      I'd probably just take to bottom burping right in front of it. As loudly as possible. Just to see what it makes of it.

      Then maybe invest in the weirdest noises I could find to mess with their metrics. I'm thinking slowed down modems, ghost recordings that kind of stuff...

      Then back to trumping (and not in the US comrade way)...

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

        Then Google or Amazon (depending on your smart speaker brand) will start showing you ads for Immodium and similar products.

    4. e^iπ+1=0

      Re: Bollocks to this creepy shit.

      "complicated trust relationship with speaker companies"

      What could possibly go wrong?

  2. israel_hands

    Though the use of the clever recognition technology for home safety – listening for burglars or a baby's sounds – is one thing, the commercialisation of ambient sounds may encounter some resistance.

    As everyone knows burglars emit a low-frequency hum when on the rob...

    This sounds like exactly the sort of thing the a typical marketing department would love to invest in. Primarily because they're too thick to understand what a bullshit concept it is.

    Then again, I suppose an adult entertainment company could get them to map all the sounds associated with having one off the wrist and start pinging tissue adverts at the hapless onanist.

    Then they could map the sound of a disrupted vinegar stroke and suggest some higher quality porn. This thing pretty much sells itself.

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Upvote just for reminding me to revise Rogers Profanisaurus definitions

    2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

      Then again, I suppose an adult entertainment company could get them to map all the sounds associated with having one off the wrist and start pinging tissue adverts at the hapless onanist.

      I had a similar thought about it detecting a change in the tone of buzzing noises and the resultant Duracell adverts being sent off to lonely housewives.

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Gimp

      I suppose an adult entertainment company could get them to map all the sounds associated with having one off the wrist and start pinging tissue adverts at the hapless onanist.

      It won't be much fun for those indulging in partnership sex to have their enjoyment interrupted by an ethereal voice asking if they were interested in booking a removals company to help move the furniture around.

      "Do you need a plumber?" might be even more off-putting.

    4. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Yup, one set of lights keeps going out because the fuse blows. This includes the kitchen. This causes me to get the head torch out. The neighbours have resolutely failed to call the cops due to torchlight coming from the interior of my house.

      I think it’s the kitchen light fitting. Going to have a look tomorrow in the daylight. I expect a plastic connector has partly melted etc or cooking greases have congealed and are conducting electrickery or some such thing.

  3. Brian Miller Silver badge

    We are gratified by your delusions!

    "I think it could definitely record what you're saying, but I don't think it's intelligent enough to remember."

    Evidently this person never worked with something called "recording tape." Once upon a time, much to the chagrin of the Nixon administration, recorded audio was not stored in ephemeral RAM, but on much less ephemeral magnetic tape. The machine had absolutely no artificial intelligence to understand the sounds, yet the sounds persisted well into, and beyond, judicial proceedings.

    There is no need for a warrant when people broadcast a stream of stupid from their abode, 24/7.

  4. Josco

    It would be inundated in our house!

    If it can record and note the sound of farts then they're going to need more storage for all the noises my family makes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      note the sound of farts

      I'll name that tune in three.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: note the sound of farts

        Wind in the Willows.

    2. Nattrash
      Pint

      Re: It would be inundated in our house!

      Hear, hear!

      "Beer and a kebab anybody..?"

    3. ICPurvis47
      Mushroom

      Re: It would be inundated in our house!

      I am trying to retrain my ring (no, not the doorbell) to only emit the silent but deadly brand of farts. That'll confuse them, unless they add smellyvision TM to it.

  5. redpawn Silver badge

    Better hope it's not real AI

    The job sounds so dull that wiping out humans even if it causes the grid to fail would be a more attractive outcome.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google failed me...

    ...after 30 minutes of searching for "fabulous freak brothers fat freddy mexican food fart".

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Google failed me...

      Of course you get an upvote for even knowing about the Fabulous Freak Brothers. The problem you may be having, however, is that the name is not correct. They are the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

      1. Colin Wilson 2

        Re: Google failed me...

        "They are the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers." ... and Fat Freddy's Cat.

        "Wait until he puts on his stereo headphones!"

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Google failed me...

          That's Fat Freddy Scat, IIRC ...

          "While you're out there smashing the state, don't forget to keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart!"

          "Where do you keep the fuck books?"

  7. vir Silver badge

    Google, Amazon, et. al. don't care about your personal conversations. They don't want a recording of what you say or do in the privacy of your own home. The bandwidth and storage requirements are too high. They much rather prefer a concise summary of the soda you drink, the toilet paper you wipe with, and the frozen peas you wish you had bought at the store.

    You know the perennial gripe about Amazon's product suggestion algorithm? The "you just bought a vacuum, would you like to buy another vacuum"? Get ready for "you just sneezed, would you like to buy a pallet of tissues?", "you just opened a window, would you like to buy a window?", "your child is screaming, would you like to buy a case of wine?". These detect a burglar/your child stopped breathing/something caught on fire use cases will ironically be the ones disallowed for privacy reasons.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Google, Amazon, et. al. don't care about your personal conversations. They don't want a recording of what you say or do in the privacy of your own home."

      Of course they do. The marketing value of doing that would be incredible. Seriously, spend some time reading websites aimed at marketers: a shockingly large percentage of what you read are about how important it is to learn everything possible about people's private lives so that information can be used to manipulate them.

      "The bandwidth and storage requirements are too high"

      Perhaps, maybe, right now. But is so, the odds are overwhelming that this will become economical in the near future.

      1. doublelayer

        The bandwidth and storage costs are not difficult at all. Audio can be compressed a lot. There are some codecs that are optimized for voice and can retain a great deal of the data needed for voice in tiny files. That's until they get better at speech recognition, into which they have been pouring millions. Then you're storing text. They already are doing something like this. If you use google's captcha and use the audio version, they make you transcribe a few words from some recording. Since you're usually blocked from whatever the thing is, it's probably better not to think about where that recording came from or what they're using your response to do.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Bandwidth and storage are miniscule

          Audio is about 8Kb/sec with modern codecs, or about 1KB/sec. You wouldn't even notice that traffic on your upstream. Once at Google HQ it would be converted to text and stored as such, and added to the profile of stuff they know about you. You talk about football a lot, so they will show you football related ads. You talk about how you dad is in the hospital and things aren't looking good, it will show you ads for funeral homes.

          Not sure why you would believe they don't have incentive to collect everything - even if they don't act on it today since their "AI" capabilities aren't good enough to do it justice, they'd want to store it because someday when it is they'd have years of your historical info to go through to get know you and your family so much better as advertising targets.

          This is how they make their money. This is the ONLY way they make their money! Advertising is over 100% of Google's profit - everything else, collectively, operates at a fairly substantial loss.

          1. paulll

            Re: Bandwidth and storage are miniscule

            No coincidence that the two firms that dominate the,"smart speaker," (awful euphemism) market, are also two of the biggest firms in cloud services - ie both storing and processing lots of data.

          2. Alister Silver badge

            Re: Bandwidth and storage are miniscule

            Once at Google HQ it would be converted to text and stored as such

            So I wonder if there will be a standard text representation of a fart. Will it be:

            Fffffwaaaaaarp

            Thrrrrrrrrp

            Pfffuuuuuit

            Brrrrraaaaap

            ??

            1. Flakk Silver badge

              Re: Bandwidth and storage are miniscule

              I imagine it would depend on the audibility of the fart. I suspect they'd use the medical term with an attached probability.

              "[Flatus - 89% Probability]"

              Algorithm - If "([Flatus >= 80% Probability] x 3) in 30 minute period", deploy ads for simethicone tablets.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re Windows

      I had to get seriously shirty with the company we bought new windows off. They kept ringing to ask if we needed new windows or doors. I kept explaining we haven’t built and extension so haven’t aquired new windows and doors so no. It took 3 or 4 rounds of me formally requesting they remove me from their database as I’m legally allowed to before they eventually did.

      This was on the landline, now disconnected. Only people calling it were marketers cocking a snook at the regulations.

  8. Kurgan

    I want votes and applauses

    That's fine, but I want the AI to be a farting contest judge. Give me votes, tell me how do my farts rank in regard to my friends ones.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: I want votes and applauses

      Good idea for an Alexa skill - a fart app 10 years on from the mobile phone ones?

      Like Clippy:

      "You're having a fart - shall I open a window?"

      "You put ill-deserved confidence into that fart - should I order some new underwear, or maybe a jet washer and some new carpet?"

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I want votes and applauses

      There was one of sorts.... https://laughingsquid.com/the-great-crepitation-contest-of-1946-a-comedy-record-about-an-international-farting-contest/

  9. LordHighFixer

    How to sell this

    or any invasive monitoring tech. Make it local. We have all dreamed of the day when our homes can be an efficient butler, but we want it to keep our private stuff private, so it needs to be local, and under our complete control. No cloud based processing. It should ask me if I need it to order new trousers after it hears I have shat myself, but I should also be able to take a hammer to the basement and permanently remove all evidence should it be necessary.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: How to sell this

      I think it was Asimov and possibly others who wrote about the intelligent and the results of said house. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: How to sell this

      We have all dreamed of the day when our homes can be an efficient butler

      Nightmares are dreams, so fair enough.

      Honestly, I have never seen the appeal in mechanized servants. Devices with simple, direct functions are fine; I have no problem with traditional (non-voice) television remotes and programmable thermostats and the like. Automated dishwashers and rice cookers don't bother me. But I've never seen a description of "smart house" automation that didn't repulse me.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: How to sell this

        Agreed, I’m one of those who still cooks from scratch and I mean making my own pasta for a lasagne from scratch. I make my own sausages, including black pudding. Local Chinese supermarket has 550g packs of frozen pig’s blood for cheap so why not?

        I also do pickles, some work really well, some are just pretty good and some I’m not touching until gone New Year in hope the vinegar has moderated. But the point is you don’t have to buy everything pre made or convenient.

        I also don’t want something to do it for me. Okay I have an ice cream maker to do the churning while freezing bit but I’ve still made the sorbet (lychee and lime) from cheap tins of lychees from said supermarket. Try buying that. Jackfruit and lime is pretty good as well. I have a spiced chestnut ice cream for Xmas day to have with the fig clafoutis I shall make.

        Now if you will excuse me I have some bread to put on: Gluten free sourdough buckwheat and 3 seed bread. My staple. Makes utterly fantastic toast. Training any sort of butler to do that would be a nightmare.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: How to sell this

          "But the point is you don’t have to buy everything pre made or convenient."

          You do if (1) you never learned how and/or (2) 28 hours of your day are spoken for and you still have trouble paying the bills.

  10. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Pint

    Targeted advertising done right?

    "Smart speakers will listen for your farts, yawns and sneezes and analyse it to sell you stuff, a British AI company hopes."

    Okay Alexa, buy me new underpants.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Targeted advertising done right?

      "Okay Alexa, buy me new underpants."

      What is vastly more disturbing is that these people want to be able to hook you up with someone willing to buy your old underpants ... without either you or the purchaser asking them to help you set up the transaction.

  11. JohnFen Silver badge

    I gotta hand it to them

    Audio Analytic has found a way to take an already deeply creepy and disturbing thing and make it even creepier and more disturbing.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: I gotta hand it to them

      I imagine that there will be some "counter-AI" decoy apps that you leave playing next to the smart speaker to mess with their models or waste processing time.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: I gotta hand it to them

        Or...simply don't have such invasive interlopers in your home to start with!

        There...that wasn't so hard, now was it?

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: I gotta hand it to them

        I imagine that there will be some "counter-AI" decoy apps that you leave playing next to the smart speaker to mess with their models or waste processing time.

        "Alexa, play the fart playlist"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I gotta hand it to them

        Sounds like a perfect opportunity for a Raspberry pi...

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I gotta hand it to them

      Another crowd of innovative, disruptive thinkers who need slap but not even a fart in their general direction.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: I gotta hand it to them

        They would gladly be the wipers of other people's bottoms if they could figure out how to monetize it.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I gotta hand it to them

      "Audio Analytic has found a way to take an already deeply creepy and disturbing thing and make it even creepier and more disturbing."

      I still live in hope of a Star Trek like future but fear we're more likely heading for The Space Merchants combined with The Marching Morons.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Required skills

    Needs to recognize the sound of sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches. Time to storm the castle (the one that has all the marketing idiots) and load up the B ark.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not everyone should be allowed

    to procreate. Look what happened to the once proud parents of this individual. Appalling!

  14. cosymart
    Big Brother

    You What!

    I knew there was a good reason to avoid smart anything that might actually be smart, although smart meters don't count as such. Do sane people pay money to put them in their homes?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: You What!

      "Do sane people pay money to put them in their homes?"

      No, they are "free" because we all pay a surcharge on our bills to cover the cost whether we want them or not.

  15. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    It sounds like you're writing a letter...

    I thought we were done with these intrusions.

    It's bad enough that I have to write my Android calendar entries in a foreign language to discourage Google from spying (to "improve" my "user experience" and who knows why else). "Swimming" provokes a background of a pool. "Dentist" provokes a scene of a toothbrush in a glass.

    1. doublelayer

      Re: It sounds like you're writing a letter...

      Google has translate. Now they know what you're doing and how well you speak whatever foreign language you use. Victory while using the app is impossible.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: It sounds like you're writing a letter...

        Fortunately, it doesn't work that well. To really mess it up, use some weird language that twins make up.

        .

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: It sounds like you're writing a letter...

          I don't know. There may come a day when a translator could use audio cues to figure out variants of Twin.

    2. Credas Silver badge

      Re: It sounds like you're writing a letter...

      It's bad enough that I have to write my Android calendar entries in a foreign language to discourage Google from spying

      Only if you don't have the wit to use a different calendar than the Google one. And I'm not sure why Google would find it difficult to read a "foreign" language, anyway.

  16. Jay Lenovo

    Ew, ick, stay away

    It's the normally inaudible sound analysis that looks to be scarier.

    I'd have no idea what that thing was slurping.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until we have smell-o-vision in reverse I'm not interested. My farts speak volumes, think war and piss.

  18. spold Bronze badge

    Needs some AI...

    ...to distinguish teenager farts from dog farts.

    Then it can order a cork for teenagers, or a cork for the dog, accordingly.

  19. jake Silver badge

    Hey, Audio Analytic (and potential investors) ...

    ... DO NOT WANT!

    You might even say I fart in your general direction. Far, far too much room for massive privacy invasion. If you still havn't got the picture, BOG OFF! And take your marketing dreams with you. So-called people like you are an anathema on the rest of the human race. Marketards are professional liars, nearly as bad as politicians, and somewhat worse than lawyers. We are sick and bloody tired of being marketed at. Just go away. Leave us alone. Time for a long drive off a short pier. Or perhaps a B-Ark.

  20. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Back before my beard went grey ...

    The Russians could word out what was being typed on an electric typewriter from a recording of the sounds it made.

    My first thought was that this tech could show an advert for a loan when you type your internet banking password - but there will not be any need for adverts. The next day you will find you took out a loan at 2400% APR and bought everything you never wanted.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Back before my beard went grey ...

      "The Russians could word out what was being typed on an electric typewriter from a recording of the sounds it made."

      Yep, that attack vector is still viable and in use.

  21. Rich 11 Silver badge

    " Any interaction must be managed responsibly"

    Not a chance in hell that will ever happen. Which rock has this idiot been hiding under for the last 20 years?

  22. Charles 9 Silver badge

    How soon...

    ...before we get back to the point where there isn't much privacy anywhere anymore. Back to the days of the village gossip?

  23. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Hmmm ...

    I was just remarking to my partner that this is indeed a veritable time-bomb that could well end up exploding in our faces, when 15 armed officers suddenly smashed down my front door ...

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 15 armed officers

      Most people only have two...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can this get any more creepy?

    Think of all the uses that this "technology" could be put to - and if you don't subscribe to it and eliminate all devices like this from your home then it's going to look very suspicious.

  25. revenant

    'A presentation made for Google can be found here.'

    Oh dear. I do hope they've got the technology sewn up tight in the patent.

  26. Tikimon Silver badge
    Facepalm

    And the obvious next step...

    Assuming this works and is actually taken up... Product manufacturers won't be happy with "we can recognize the sound of your bags being ripped open". They will want to make SURE the competing snack maker won't mistakenly get credit. I predict that they would rapidly include some electronic widget to play a chime or jingle when opened. Twofold purpose, to let the spy ear know it was Crazy Crackers you opened, and to reinforce the Crazy Crackers jingle in the consumer's mind.

    Ah, I just realized. Rather than have a cracker pack include a sound player, use RFID or other cheap tag to Id the product. Then the spyware calls the mothership for the proper jingle and it is played BY THE SPEAKER. Much more simple, and easily changed on the fly. Yeah, that's the way it'll go.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: And the obvious next step...

      @Tikimon

      Then it'll follow up with a 'Would you like to review your recent snack' ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the obvious next step...

      More likely they'll spend absurdly large amounts of money subtly altering the packaging to make a more distinctive sound when opened. Electronic bits are fragile and expensive, but changing the shape of a can's opening tab to give it the "Pepsi Pop" would be just as effective and fodder for a marketing campaign in itself.

      It would also give them the chance to throw down more nebulously worded patents to make life harder for small competitors. Your soda can sounds too much like the Pepsi Pop, here come the legal piranhas to eat your face!

  27. martinusher Silver badge

    Its already a realty

    Amazon's smart speakers offer home security capabilities where they can be used either as standalone security devices or integrated into a security system.

    1. cosymart
      Facepalm

      Re: Its already a realty

      You mean you're the idiot that bought one, see icon.

  28. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Joke

    My security system already listens to everything.

    It responds to verbal instructions.

    It can identify any non-me person by sound as soon as they enter the house.

    It can differentiate the sound of food packaging being opened from other packaging.

    It can identify when targeted events are about to take place such as the biscuit cupboard being opened.

    If only it could open its own dog food tins.

    1. Steve K Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: My security system already listens to everything.

      I suppose that is a more practical type of B-Ark....

      Think of the confusion/mayhem if you had a dog called Alexa AND an Alexa device...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: My security system already listens to everything.

        "Think of the confusion/mayhem if you had a dog called Alexa AND an Alexa device..."

        Such as a military dog called Fire? (true story)

    2. BGatez

      Re: My security system already listens to everything.

      Can it discern between your farts and the dogs?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: My security system already listens to everything.

        Yes, of course. Its audio. Human and dog farts have completely different timbres. The real question is can it tell the difference between a (larger) Whippet and a (smaller) Greyhound? Or rough and smooth Collies?

        Or you and your .sig other?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: My security system already listens to everything.

          Or the old line, "Is it live or is it Memorex?"

  29. Updraft102 Silver badge

    "open up new service or subscription-based revenue streams for the world's most innovative companies".

    You keep using that word.

    I do not think it means what you think it means.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    News From 2020

    In a much anticipated announcement today, Amazon announced that for the past two years, selected Alexa customers have been using advanced Alexa installations which have both video and smell detection integrated into the tradition voice technology. From today, all customers will be able to purchase this advanced technology.

    *

    Not only will the audio technology recognise farts, but the smell technology will analyse the farts to assess the food items concerned, and Amazon will provide a shopping list for re-stocking.

    *

    The new video technology will be used to analyse both movement (and stasis) and personal posture, and Amazon will be able to detect deaths. For the living, Amazon will use the posture detection to recommend local osteopaths to Amazon customers.

    *

    Look for more exciting developments to be announced in the coming weeks!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    context mining

    I once worked for a company looking to mine all the possible insights that could be had from location, metadata and spending habits so they could provide companies with additional insights to consumer behavior. We did a demo for a group of prospective companies showing them what was possible (this was 2002) and the response was not what we expected. We were accused of stalking consumers and were told "there's no way they'll put up with that." Yet here we are.

  32. BGatez

    1984 anyone?

    Not in my home - ever

  33. 10forcash

    Until they (the listening devices) become mandatory - just don't buy one.

    Problem solved, QED as my Dad would say.

    In the meantime, prepare for 'off grid' living once the Cloud Overlords have successfully lobbied for the devices to be strapped to everyone at birth, a bit like 'out on licence' ankle tags but with microphones and probably by then, all six types of GPS receivers...

    Tin foil sales will go through the roof.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Which won't help you none once they send out the surveillance drones and spy satellites equipped with infrared cameras to boot...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        OR start hiding the stuff inside the stuff you buy everyday. Imagine your new TV has one hidden away (and no, you can't buy one without it as ALL new TVs got one installed secretly). Or the computer? Or the fridge? ANYTHING that can use power (and can probably transmit information through the mains, meaning no antennas).

  34. PB90210

    Bond, your mission...

    Makes things harder for Bond. Previously he just had to run the bathroom tap/shower while he looked behind pictures and in lampshades... now he has to figure out how to disable Alexa/Google Assist in all manner of (non-Q) gadgets.

    All this should be a boost for sales of those Japanese gadgets for masking toilet sounds

  35. Big_Boomer

    Alexa/Google This!

    <sounds of a smartspeaker being pounded into dust with a large lump hammer> :-)

    To be honest, you already have a several devices in your house that can listen to you whenever some spook wants to. Landline phones, cellphones, laptops and tablets all have built in microphones. However, giving access to marketers is insanity. Like we don't already get deluged in ad crap already!!!

  36. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Terminator

    Like Schwarzie in "Raw Deal"...

    *CLICK*

    *CLACK*

    *SHLACK...KLING!"

    "Alexa, am I racking an AR-15 or AKM?"

    "I don't know, but I can propose a special deal on 'ArmorFail' ammunition. Just today!"

    "No thanks, I'm good!"

    *ZIIIP*

    *ZIIIP*

    (Front Door Closes)

  37. Quinlan

    Stop Alexa listening when you don't want...

    The hard way: build a sound-proof box with Alexa inside. Customise a Rasp Pi to listen for your command word and relay only the following sound-segment. Extract Alexa's audio via 3.5mm socket etc.

    The easier way: press the mute button on Alexa to disable mic. Buy an Alexa Voice Remote - but this does mean you have to physically have the remote with you and press the mic button to send a command.

    Another hard way: as above but hack the Alexa Voice Remote and use a Raspberry Pi to detect your unique command word upon which it 'closes' the contact of the Alexa Voice Remote switch (yes get your soldering iron out) so that you can send your voice instruction.

    Nice weekend project ...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Stop Alexa listening when you don't want...

      How soon before those Alexas become tamper-sensing so that you can't open them up without getting blared about it from the Alexa every five seconds (oh, and your warranty is now void, too--naughty tampering)?

  38. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Curious minds want to know...

    So how does it classify the sound of ZPU firing alternating with Bill Hicks on Marketing?

  39. GX5000

    George Orwell is spinning in his grave at the speed of light

    Has no one seen 1984?!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will it be too much?

    When will we stand up to this and say enough is enough.

    They already do all this through your phone.

    This is just so depressing for those who can't walk away from it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: When will it be too much?

      Simple. They won't. They LIKE doing this. It's better than toll booths...

  41. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

    April is a way away

    Is this a f*cking joke?

    I've just started watching Black Mirror and the episodes that showed a fully aware digital consciousness performing the jobs we have Alexa doing today creeped me out enough, then I read this.

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