These days, we have plenty of devices at home and around us that are constantly listening. Take our smartwatches and smartphones for example, where they have digital assistants built into them that can be summoned without pressing a button and simply using our voice. Combine that with the rise of smart speakers and it is understandable that some people are getting increasingly uncomfortable.
This is what Heather Zhang felt when her husband, Ben Zhao, bought an Amazon Echo speaker to place in their home, where she did not relish the idea that the microphone was always on. Taking this opportunity, both husband and wife decided to come up with an idea to create a bracelet of silence, which is essentially an audio jammer that can be worn on the wrist.
Both Zhang and Zhao are computer science professors teaching at the University of Chicago, and together with the help of assistant professor Pedro Lopes, they created the bracelet which features 24 speakers capable of emitting ultrasonic signals that are strong enough to jam microphones around it.
As it stands, the bracelet they’ve created only exists as a prototype. However, its creators believe that they could manufacture it for as little as $20, and that some of their investors have approached them with the idea to commercialize it.