Innovations That Matter

The wearable jams smartphone microphones | Photo source B. Zhao, H. Zheng et. al./University of Chicago

Wearable jams microphones in smart devices

Computing & Tech

Scientists at the University of Chicago have created a wearable device that emits white noise to jam smart speakers

Spotted: A team at the University of Chicago has developed a wearable that jams microphones in smart devices. The device is more effective than a stationary alternative, because the natural movement of the wearer’s arm extends its range, and the body’s natural movements reduce any blind spots. The device also includes amplifiers to limit blind spots.

The wearable jams microphones in speakers, smartwatches, and smartphones. It has 24 separate transducers that emit ultrasonic waves to obstruct microphones, even when they are hidden. It also sends out white noise at a frequency between 24 and 26 kHz.

The team has already developed a prototype, which has responded well in tests but is too clunky to wear casually. A paper on the device will be presented at the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in April. 

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