Earlier this year, we had the Paranoid. Now, it’s the Alexagate. Both are devices that disable the microphones on Alexa or Google Home devices, adding more cost to your smart-home convenience in the name of privacy.
The Alexagate, like the Paranoid Home Wave, clamps onto your Amazon Echo device and jams the microphone by emitting loud ultrasonic sounds, out of range of human hearing but perhaps not your dog’s. However, at $99, the Alexagate costs twice as much as any of the three $49 Paranoid devices, as well as the Echo Dot.
That may be because, like the Clapper of infomercials past, the Alexagate can be toggled off and on by three loud claps. So if you want Alexa to dim the lights or open the door, just clap three times and voila! — Amazon’s voice assistant can start listening to you again.
Or, you can just turn off the Amazon Echo’s microphone.
Alexagate is made by MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based firm that seems to specialize in quirky and annoying tech gadgets and stunts.
There’s a shirt made of other brands’ logos; a Chrome extension that lets you watch Netflix at work by disguising it as a conference call; a bong made from a squeaky rubber chicken; the Cuss Collar, “a collar that curses whenever your dog barks”; and a Slack channel that recreates every episode of The Office, among other things. (Business Insider did a fun profile of the company several months ago.)
It’s worth checking out the MSCHF website just for its impressive arty-industrial reworking of how a site should behave. As for whether you should shell out $99 for an Alexagate to go with your $49 Echo Dot, that’s up to you.