Walls have ears, or so the saying goes. Perhaps that might be true many, many years ago, but this is certainly not the case when it comes to modern day trappings. Case in point, the Coversnitch, a device that was built by a couple of artists for less than a Benjamin, where it looks like a regular lightbulb or lamp, save for the fact that it is capable of eavesdropping on all that goes on around it.
The NSA would certainly love to get their hands on this, and then figure out a way to mass produce them while lowering the overall cost. The Coversnitch will be able to send snippets of transcribed audio to Twitter as well, where the entire idea of creating this work of art, according to Kyle McDonald and Brian House, is to help folks think about public and private spaces in a time when just about anything can be broadcast by ubiquitous, Internet-connected listening devices.
House asked, “What does it mean to deploy one of these in a library, a public square, someone’s bedroom? What kind of power relationship does it set up? And what does this stream of tweets mean if it’s not set up by an artist but by the U.S. government?”
Rhetorical questions, surely, but interesting ones. The Conversnitch will comprise of a Raspberry Pi miniature computer, an LED light source and a plastic flower pot, where it can be screwed onto any standard bulb socket and draw its juice from there before uploading captured audio via Wi-Fi to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform.