Privacy-friendly Smart Home System: Introducing Candle

Voice control systems such as Alexa and Siri have been in the news lately, as it turned out that unbeknownst to many, voice recordings were listened to by outside contractors. Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple claimed this practice is necessary to improve the quality of their voice assistants. But to what extent is this a satisfying defence?

This week saw the launch of Candle, a prototype of a privacy-focused smart home system, at Dutch Design Week.

Candle has a fully local voice control, meaning no cloud connection is required. To make this possible it builds the work of French startup Snips.ai, which specialises in cloudless voice control systems. The prototypes prove a point: for most basic use cases, such as turning on the lights or setting a timer, these voice control systems have reached a “good enough” state. There comes a point when these machine learning systems have learnt enough.

The development of Candle’s privacy-friendly voice control capabilities were made possible through SHERPA‘s research and support. It enables a broader discussion on the insatiable data hunger of these machine learning systems, and the unsatisfying claim that it’s vital to continue collecting large amounts of voice data. A deeper analysis of this issue can be found on the Candle website. If you’d like to visit the exhibit at Dutch Design Week, you can do so until the 29th of October 2019.

Candle forms a part of the SHERPA Pieces – a collection of artworks by our partner Pineapple Jazz. Check out the other artworks here.

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