Alexa goes antique

A wave of reports went around recently in which owners of Alexa swore that the device emitted creepy, unprompted laughs at random intervals. If this doesn’t sound deeply disturbing to you, then you’re obviously made of cold steel. Amazon quickly responded by saying they had patched out the problem, and that it was due only to the voice recognition system misunderstanding key phrases in nearby conversations.

Sure, Amazon, sure. Way to give innocent device owners chills, and possibly even nightmares. Either way, the incident sparked yet another bout of paranoia about advanced technology, and just much it is taking privacy for granted.

Perhaps not directly related to this incident, but certainly inspired by the controversy, the Antique Alexaphones were announced, and although certainly striking in design, one of their biggest features is their guaranteed privacy.

Operator, Give Me The Police

Old movies are charming for more than a few reasons. But perhaps the most charming aspect is seeing folks of old use the phone. Men with snazzy, pencil-line moustaches picking up the phone, and asking the operator to put him through to the police never stops being delightful.

This is probably one of the main reasons behind the Antique Alexaphone designs, and the devices certainly are extremely convincing in their appearance, complete even with artificial age blemishes. So much so that you’d swear they were plucked straight from black and white film.

Three models are currently available, the Regent, a model from 50s Belgium, the Avignon, a solid brass model from the 20s, and the Metropolis, a candlestick rotary model you will probably recognise from every detective noir movie you’ve ever seen. Needless to say, they are all extremely appealing, at least for those who have a soft spot for antiques. Though, the new tech is also obviously there, with each model having a USB and audio jack port.

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Privacy Is King

But the biggest selling point of these devices is that they, above all else, do not hear a word you’re saying unless the receiver is lifted. Upon the receiver being placed on its cradle, the microphone is physically disconnected. This means that it is literally impossible for Alexa to hear anything, unless you want it to be so.

It is somewhat troubling that this is such a touted feature of the phones, and very much a sign of the times. With privacy breaches being almost a regular occurrence these days, it really does make one stop and ask if we’ve all been just a little too careless about allowing mega-corporations to lord over our personal details.

Either way, the phones themselves are so charming and pleasant to look at that the purpose of their designs is easy to overlook. Just pretend you wouldn’t pick up the receiver of any one of these phones and suddenly adopt a 20s American accent asking for the operator to put you through to the police. A sultry detective noir secretary is not included with any one the devices. Which I think is a shame!

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