Researchers from Darmstadt University, the University of Paris Saclay, and North Carolina State University have built a prototype device that is designed to be placed in a room and will detect the presence of devices that stream nearby audio to the Internet. By emitting sounds and monitoring subsequent network traffic LeakyPick detects audio transmission with 94-percent accuracy. The device monitors network traffic and provides an alert whenever the identified devices are streaming ambient sounds.
Built at a cost of around $40 it could potentially be mass produced by a consumer brand at an attractive price-point for security-conscious smartspeaker owners.
Aside from the privacy protection that the devices can provide it has also detected many false positives which triggers audio being sent back to the mothership as it were. In its study the researchers found 89 non-wake words that can trigger Alexa into sending audio to Amazon.
If you’ve used smart speakers for any length of time you’ll experience a lot of false positives, especially as the platform tries to detect and learn your voice (forget about when you’re in the industry and you’re talking about Google, Siri and Alexa through a significant amount of the day).
For those reasons alone we’ll be lining up for this product if it ever comes to market.