I’m not a fan of the ubiquitous listening devices. Not that having a virtual assistant always on the standby to serve my every (ok, some) need wouldn’t be handy; it would be fun to be talk to my house. Seriously, I work from home. It gets lonely. But I digress.
It’s because of the growing interconnectedness of it all, combined with lax privacy laws and inadequate digital security. They *say* they’re only listening for your action word, but the Ts&Cs prove otherwise; as do recent legal events when it’s been shown that not only are they always listening, but always recording.
And the Amazons and Googles of the world will eventually be more than happy to sell your conversations to advertisers and others (yes, government – I’m looking at you. Who knows if my recent (theoretical) conversations about microdosing LSD won’t some day be of interest to you, or the health insurance companies.)
So I recently revisited a favorite device, launched in 2005 (the ice age for digital devices). I was rather obsessed with it at the time, but didn’t take the plunge and have been sorry ever since.
It’s called a Nabaztag (rabbit in Armenian!). It was a listening device that wasn’t tied to any multinational conglomerate; it was an open source device that read your emails to you, the weather, stock market report, news, RSS-Feeds, MP3-Streams, acted as a walkie-talkie with another Nabaztag, and a few other things.
Point is: it did much of what Alexa and Siri do (other than order you things, although someone could probably program an app for it that would) without reporting back to anyone.
A device way before its time. And completely open source.
Why aren’t there any of these types of listening devices on the market now? Surely some independent company out there could come up with a current day equivalent? I bet it would sell like hotcakes – what an opportunity. I know I’d get one.
And then kit it out like people used to do with the Nabaztags 😊 The viral potential for getting the word out about something like this is incredible.
Unfortunately I’m reduced to scouring Ebay for the occasional one that comes up for sale, and since the server’s been decommissioned, turning into a programmer to make it work (although there’s a very lively worldwide community of hackers/enthusiasts with a fair number of boards sharing code and “how to’s”). And that takes a LOT of time.
Someone get on this. Please.