Tech

A Home-made Kill Switch And Other Ways To Keep Your Lives Private With Alexa Always Listening

By Edge Ison , Jan 13, 2017 03:36 AM EST
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There's a way to keep Alexa in check.

A guy named Shawn Hymel who works as an engineer at SparkFun Electronics has successfully hacked an Amazon Echo and added a kill switch that will turn off the smart speaker when told to do so.

According to Consumer World, the home-made kill switch can be triggered by a custom voice command such as "Alexa, trigger Echo shutdown". The command will instantly turn the power off preventing Alexa from listening further or saying things that should not be spoken in front of a toddler.

Once the coast is clear and damage has been prevented, the user can turn the Echo back on by using another voice command this time addressed to the kill switch. This can also be done by pressing a button.

The kill switch has not been made available for purchase but Hymel posted the instructions here. Simply follow his instructions and be prepared to dole out around $100 for the project.

Aside from the home-brewed kill switch, there are other ways to stay secure and protect one's privacy from the likes of Alexa.

San Diego Tribune has listed a few methods.

The Echo has a mute button that can be physically clicked to put Alexa in mute mode. This cancels Alexa's "always listening" ability.

Those with Amazon accounts are better off deleting old recordings. It is under "Manage my device" on the dashboard of the Amazon web page. This will make dealings with Alexa less personalized but will make owners' lives a bit more private.

Owners can set up an "end of request" tone which can be heard when the smart speaker has ceased listening for queries.

Google Home along with its AI Google Assistant works the same way as Echo and Alexa though which one is better is up for debate. Google Home gathers data and analyzes them to personalize "transactions" with the owner. Speaking of transactions, anything that a user does with his or her Google account is recorded. Users should take the time to check the details that Google has of them and to avoid having financial transactions and linking other important accounts to Google.

Owners can also put it in the mute mode using a physical button. They should also be always wary of the LED lights on the Home. It changes colors when listening.

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