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View Full Version : The Rise of Voice Command Gizmos.


meadowrun
14th Dec 2017, 12:02
Siri, Gizmo,Alexa, Amazon, Google........those little boxes you can boss around at home or now - in your car, that save you more physical exercise than you manage to avoid already.


Aside from the data gathering questions and cost - think I'll skip this round of tech advancement.
I don't mind getting up to change the thermostat, or picking up bathroom tissue next time I visit the shops.

57mm
14th Dec 2017, 12:57
Whenever the Memsahib is in the car with me, there is voice activation......

troppo
14th Dec 2017, 13:04
Siri, Gizmo,Alexa, Amazon, Google........those little boxes you can boss around at home or now - in your car, that save you more physical exercise than you manage to avoid already.

You missed out wife.

VP959
14th Dec 2017, 13:20
Voice activation is good whilst driving.

Why anyone would want a listening device installed in their home however I do not know.

Precisely my thoughts. IIRC, there has already been one criminal case where one of the providers was asked to hand over the voice records from their servers as possible evidence of a crime in a house fitted with one, so it's clear that all the companies operating these things do leave the mics open with live voice data being sent back to their servers to some degree. even when there may not have been a "key word" to trigger recording.

Quite why anyone would willingly want a company effectively listening in on everything they and their kids say within range of one of these things is beyond me. I wonder what their response would be if you asked them to just accept being voice bugged 24/7?

Voice activation when driving is different, as it's only the electronics in your car doing the voice recognition. it's not sending the data somewhere, perhaps in another country, to be analysed, and for some things it does work very well. Making hands free phone calls seems to work well in my car, but speaking an address to the sat nav is not such a great experience.

fleigle
14th Dec 2017, 13:30
So when I tell Alexa to "shut the f*** up" I could be had down the road for uttering an obscenity?????
S**t !!
f

ExXB
14th Dec 2017, 13:32
Can someone who has one do the following test?

Sit near to device and talk about a particular product. Mention the product name a dozen or so times. Then report back how long before targeted ads for that product show up on your browser.

Mechta
14th Dec 2017, 13:46
...but speaking an address to the sat nav is not such a great experience.

A friend demonstrating his all-singing, all-dancing sat nav, kept repeating the address to it, getting louder and higher pitched each time. Eventually I said to him, "You should give it the same name as your dog. He ignores you too." Harsh but true...

ExXB
14th Dec 2017, 14:10
Prop head, Siri settings allow you to either have it listen for “Hey Siri”, or await a press and hold of the home button. (Or equivalent on Macs). Or it can be turned off.

And I trust Apple a lot more than google or amazon. Of the three only two report revenue from the sale of data.

meadowrun
14th Dec 2017, 14:19
it's only the electronics in your car doing the voice recognition. it's not sending the data somewhere


Apparently there is a mobile device(s) with capabilities similar to the home version....as in...... "Mildred...order paper towels".

VP959
14th Dec 2017, 14:33
Apparently there is a mobile device(s) with capabilities similar to the home version....as in...... "Mildred...order paper towels".

There's only one-way connectivity from my car to the outside world - it can receive radio signals and that's it, so no chance of it sending data to anyone.

Mechta
14th Dec 2017, 14:56
Maybe Mildred doesn't rely on radio signals?

Pontius Navigator
14th Dec 2017, 15:41
There's only one-way connectivity from my car to the outside world - it can receive radio signals and that's it, so no chance of it sending data to anyone.

But not mine. With Bluetooth to my smart phone it tells the world if it is stationary more than 100 metres from a junction. It also reports if it is moving slowly in traffic. If that seems bad it can also send tracking data back to base.

VP959
14th Dec 2017, 15:46
You can turn off a fair bit of that if you want to. You don't have to leave Bluetooth in "discover" mode on both your car and phone, for example. It'll still work fine in your car once it's been initially paired, but neither your car nor your phone will constantly broadcast your Bluetooth ID as you drive around. If you want to pair your phone to a new device that you've never paired with before, just turn discovery on, pair the two, then turn it off again.

I can't see any good reason for leaving your Bluetooth (or your Wifi, come to that) broadcasting when it has absolutely no need to. All that does is give information away that others (AKA Google with the drive-by Wifi logging scam they pulled with their Streetview cars) may choose to misuse if the wish.

AFAIK, the only benefit of leaving a Bluetooth phone in discover mode, so it's broadcasting it's ID all the time, is if you wish to indulge in a bit of "toothing" on the train, perhaps................ (it's a fake story, anyway: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toothing )

Hempy
14th Dec 2017, 16:30
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vapilot2004
14th Dec 2017, 19:39
Whenever I am at leisure and ask Siri for some trivial information, she comes through in a stellar manner. Whenever I am in an imperative need of help, more often than not, she goes TU.

I recall reading that many of the gizmos we witnessed on the original Star Trek series are now available at a Tesco/Costco/Amazon retailer, and some of the more "exotic" technologies are in the proof of concept stage in places like MIT.

andytug
14th Dec 2017, 19:45
There's a car being advertised on the radio now with "Alexa built in"..... then at the end of the advert it says "requires compatible Android phone“. So what if you have an iPhone or Android phone that isn't compatible? Tough, presumably.

VP959
14th Dec 2017, 19:58
The thing to remember with Siri, Alexa etc is that they are extremely dumb. The voice recognition isn't done in the box, The cheap box is just a microphone, speaker and internet interface,

When you give a command to one of these units that command is not being processed by the unit in your house, it is being sent back to a server somewhere, probably in another country, and the audio from your voice is being processed and interpreted by that remote server (which has loads more processing power that the little box could ever hold).

Whether many users realise that these boxes are just always-on microphones, sending data continuously to someone else's servers I have no idea, but I suspect that they don't It'll be interesting to see how many more criminal cases use evidence recorded by these systems, as on the face of it they are a gift for law enforcement. Having recording bugs in loads of houses, all legally installed by their owners, has to be a gift to law enforcement..

EGLD
14th Dec 2017, 20:12
If I could get past having an all-listening device in the home, which I can't....

Just what on earth is the point of these things? :confused:

VP959
14th Dec 2017, 20:25
If I could get past having an all-listening device in the home, which I can't....

Just what on earth is the point of these things? :confused:

The point is exactly the same as the point of social media, like FB, it's a means to offer a cheap (or free) gadget or app that, at first sight, seems to offer something for nothing, (or very little), with the real intention of gathering data about people that can be sold or used to enhance sales in some way.

Knowing what people are interested in, by listening in to the conversations, tracking where they go on the internet or where the travel to and who they talk to on the phone, is all valuable data to marketeers, who are always looking at ways to better target potential customers.

G-CPTN
14th Dec 2017, 20:56
it is being sent back to a server somewhere, probably in another country, and the audio from your voice is being processed and interpreted by that remote server

Probably a human on zero hours minimum wage.

Windy Militant
14th Dec 2017, 21:53
Best toe the party line as Big Sister is watching you! :suspect:

Jetex_Jim
14th Dec 2017, 22:00
As they used to say in the DDR, "If you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear."

Gertrude the Wombat
14th Dec 2017, 22:05
Of course one of the reasons this technology is being developed is so it can replace the call centre and soon we will be asking an app for help rather than a human.
I've come across call centres like that on several occasions. I think they have actually worked for me exactly zero times.

EGLD
15th Dec 2017, 06:12
As they used to say in the DDR, "If you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear."

Until they change what you need to hide.

ShyTorque
15th Dec 2017, 08:22
And I trust Apple a lot more than google or amazon. Of the three only two report revenue from the sale of data.

Not sure that I trust any of them.

I visited the Apple Store in London, with a colleague who was interested in a new laptop. I never touched anything, let alone typed anything, or filled in any online forms.

Almost immediately my phone, which had been in my pocket, began receiving adverts for their products.

Pace
15th Dec 2017, 08:39
Transition deal will keep UK in EU in 'all but name' - but STRIP ALL your rights - EU boss - Express
https://apple.news/ALzipKji5MiWAasRf32a6XA

TescoApp

Who has fanciful thoughts ?
Transition in EU in all but name
Trade deal ? Even transposing Canada which we don’t want will take 2 years

Mays delay now to get consensus on what we want has effectively closed down a default exit hence catch 22 and will end up Canada ( no good ) or Norway ?
Or Macron idea which will allow changes without precedent

ExXB
15th Dec 2017, 08:57
Pace, are you in the right thread?

cattletruck
15th Dec 2017, 09:44
20 years ago I sat an i386SX laptop running voice recognition and MS-Word in very large font next to the TV while the evening news broadcast was on. Twas very entertaining.

These days the trend is to use a farm of servers to process the dulcet tones of one's voice for those IoT devices.

Our tax office even accepts your voice signature as a legitimate form of identification.

One failing of the whole system is that it cannot tell if you have a proverbial gun pointed at your head, but give it some time and it will be able to sense anxiety, or maybe even know when you are telling fibs.

UniFoxOs
15th Dec 2017, 10:19
20 years ago I sat an i386SX laptop running voice recognition and MS-Word in very large font next to the TV while the evening news broadcast was on. Twas very entertaining.

You can do the same thing now in Wetherspoons with the news channel. I figure that if Sky, with loads of money to buy big fast computers and the latest software, and to train it to all their announcers/reporters, can't even get simple words right, then I am not going to waste my time pissing about trying to get a little box to work in my house.

treadigraph
15th Dec 2017, 12:10
Pace, are you in the right thread?

He's a virus!

I visited the Apple Store in London, with a colleague who was interested in a new laptop. I never touched anything, let alone typed anything, or filled in any online forms.

Almost immediately my phone, which had been in my pocket, began receiving adverts for their products.

There is a Tesco Express across the road from my office. A couple of days ago my company smart phone received a message from the Tesco - it's never been in there (I have but not with coat, phones, etc...). Wifi was switched off, Bluetooth on. How can they message me?

Mechta
15th Dec 2017, 12:46
Whilst watching 'Blue Planet' last night, with scenes of penguins launching themselves out of the water onto the ice, I switched on the laptop. The start up image, which for some time now had been a view out of a cave looking at a couple of islands,, was now..., you've guessed it..., a penguin.

Sometimes I think 'they' do these things just to let us know... :ooh:

VP959
15th Dec 2017, 12:56
Wifi was switched off, Bluetooth on. How can they message me?

Because I bet you've left your Bluetooth on in discovery mode, so every man and his dog within range knows what your device name is and roughly where you are.

In the Bluetooth menu there will be an option saying something like "make this device discoverable by others" or something similar. Turn that off, as you only need it turned on whenever you pair your Bluetooth device to a new device that it hasn't ever seen before. All the stored pairings work fine with that off.

One major flaw with Bluetooth is that the pretty crude 4 digit "security code" is usually something guessable like 0000 and anyway a lot of devices will pair without bothering to go through a proper secure pairing sequence, anyway, as people like things that are easy to use.

treadigraph
15th Dec 2017, 13:07
Just had a look, VP, says its only visible to paired devices which are my office and personal laptops, can't see anything about discoverable mode...? Our resident techie isn't in, might get him to look at it next week! It is the first time it's ever happened...

VP959
15th Dec 2017, 13:19
Just had a look, VP, says its only visible to paired devices which are my office and personal laptops, can't see anything about discoverable mode...? Our resident techie isn't in, might get him to look at it next week! It is the first time it's ever happened...

It is possible (but not strictly legal) to detect Bluetooth devices that have discoverable mode turned off, via a hacked bit of hardware. I wouldn't expect Tesco to be playing with stuff like this, though. You can get a Bluetooth dongle that will do this, or there's some code around to sniff for Bluetooth devices using the page scan work around, which will get an undiscoverable Bluetooth device to respond, although the only way to pair to it is if the person trying the hack knows the device MAC address, so that doesn't seem likely.

How secure is your office system? Is it possible that the access came via the link from a PC or laptop via the office network?

treadigraph
15th Dec 2017, 13:37
The network is pretty secure (or so we hope!) but don't know if it could have got in via another method. I deleted it so can't see if there are any other clues.

I shall await further breaches with interest!

Out of interest, are Tesco Express actual Tesco owned stores or are they a franchise?

vaqueroaero
15th Dec 2017, 14:13
I thought this was pretty good!

https://youtu.be/YvT_gqs5ETk

MG23
15th Dec 2017, 17:16
Almost immediately my phone, which had been in my pocket, began receiving adverts for their products.

You do realize your phone is tracking your location and told GoolagBook that you were in an Apple store, right?

I have no spyware apps installed on my iPhone and all the iOS privacy options turned on, and see no sign at all of it sending such data to advertisers. Then again, I run Brave and an ad-blocker, so it would be hard to be sure.

G-CPTN
15th Dec 2017, 17:22
You do realize your phone is tracking your location and told GoolagBook that you were in an Apple store, right?

Indeed - I smiled some years ago when there was an outcry about ID cards and how intrusive they would be, followed by a widespread uptake of electronic 'tags' (mobile 'phones that track the user wherever they are).

You couldn't have invented a better and more efficient system to document movements than what we have today - and people adopted it voluntarily!

MG23
15th Dec 2017, 17:24
You couldn't have invented a better and more efficient system to document movements than what we have today - and people adopted it voluntarily!

Yeah, the only reason I have one at all is because I need to be on-call for work, and that requires having a smart phone. Before that, I had a dumb phone that was only turned on when I needed it.

ShyTorque
15th Dec 2017, 18:18
You do realize your phone is tracking your location and told GoolagBook that you were in an Apple store, right?

Well, by now I had worked that out....

ShyTorque
15th Dec 2017, 18:23
You couldn't have invented a better and more efficient system to document movements than what we have today - and people adopted it voluntarily!

Voluntarily? Not so, that wasn't made clear until long after ownership of mobile phones became commonplace.

B Fraser
15th Dec 2017, 18:34
Try "Alexa, this is Ghostrider requesting a fly-by"

Small things that make your day.

G-CPTN
15th Dec 2017, 18:45
Voluntarily? Not so, that wasn't made clear until long after ownership of mobile phones became commonplace.

Agreed that people didn't understand the implications until they had already adopted the technology - but they voluntarily signed-up for the system - in fact they demanded it (connectivity, not the tracking).

Ogre
15th Dec 2017, 21:13
The problem will come in the years ahead when something goes wrong with the local network and hundreds of people suddenly don't know how to think for themselves.:ugh:

My concern is that I have two or more of these devices in the house, I leave them switched on and leave the house. I'm worried they will start talking to each other and I'll come back and find I've bought Belgium........

MG23
15th Dec 2017, 21:22
My concern is that I have two or more of these devices in the house, I leave them switched on and leave the house. I'm worried they will start talking to each other and I'll come back and find I've bought Belgium........

I'm sure there was an article a while back about dubious phone apps using ultrasonic signals to communicate between phones in the same location?

G-CPTN
15th Dec 2017, 21:26
My concern is that I have two or more of these devices in the house, I leave them switched on and leave the house. I'm worried they will start talking to each other and I'll come back and find I've bought Belgium........

Parrot shows he’s a clever boy by ordering Amazon gift boxes with voice-controlled gadget Alexa (https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/4502204/parrot-alexa-shopping-online-amazon-buddy-african-grey/).

ExXB
16th Dec 2017, 17:53
Belgium isn’t that expensive ... And just think of the frites.