For most of the privileged individuals and communities, the declaration of pandemics meant we suddenly spent much more time at home than ever before, especially with activities that were previously associated with other places and spaces, both in and outdoors.

Obligatory home office pushed the carefully crafted managerial systems and advice on work-life balance directly to the merging of work with life, intruding the private space with new tools of productivity tracking and performance surveillance of the pandemic screen worker. Social distancing canceled live gatherings of leisure, diverse spiritual and entertainment needs, and physical training. As a result, subscriptions to online streaming services soared. Basic needs such as grocery shopping etc. had been outsourced to automated systems and precarised delivery service persons on a massive scale.

All in all, we considered home to be a safe place from the plague: We have our health status under control, we have the movement of the invisible, nano, and micro intruders under control.

At the same time, we’ve had different silent companions with us which seem to have been our choice, which made our households more convenient, more comfortable, saved us time and money, we were more effective and made us feel more ‘homey’.

The constant creation of new needs and evolution of services and products to the old needs brought the use of apps, computers, smartphones, consumer technology, and electromechanical domestic appliances.

The harvesting of user data, its analysis, and interpretation is obviously not a new development, it had just been accelerated by the pandemic involuntary quarantines and lockdowns. It also brings us a possibility to reflect on it and take action: If we consider the amount of data it collects and the respective vulnerability of the consumer technology equipment, is their presence still so comforting?

┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ)


One may argue with the pauperized argument that they have nothing to hide, that the surveillance is harmless as long as the observed aren’t doing anything illegal or do not conform to the general rules; therefore it is not necessary to oppose it. We could also inverse this argument to say that those who oppose have something to hide, something wrong they did. The most common counter-argument, as Bruce Schneier had concluded [1], includes the fact that anything can be used against an individual as long as it is defined by the system as ‘wrong,’ as long as the system is biased. Or, another by Schneier, that there is a contrast between liberty (of not being tracked) vs. control (by surveillance which does not necessarily lead to security). [2]

Mass surveillance matters to the general public. As Julian Assange remarked, “mass surveillance is a mass structural change: when society goes bad, it’s going to take you with it, even if you are the blandest person on earth [3].”

Right to be unobserved, to remain un-studied is supposed to belong to general human rights, e.g. as Edward Snowden remarked “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say”. [4]

Home means a hideaway, a place to recharge. It is both a physical and mental need and place of every human being, regardless of its rendering which relies on economic possibilities. It includes us, the seemingly boring and inessential majority. In this project, we will look at the new notion of home: an indirectly hostile place, changed through pandemic settings to a space in which the intimity, integrity and safety become mere simulations of themselves.

[1] https://www.schneier.com/essays/archives/2006/05/the_eternal_value_of.html

[2] https://www.schneier.com/essays/archives/2006/05/the_eternal_value_of.html

[3] https://web.archive.org/web/20150410013700/http://wikileaksetc.blogspot.nl/2015/04/courage-foundation-reddit-ama.html

[4] https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/36ru89/just_days_left_to_kill_mass_surveillance_under/crglgh2/

༼ ºل͟º ༼ ºل͟º ༼ ºل͟º ༽ ºل͟º ༽ ºل͟º ༽


The pandemic home can be seen as a situation of accelerated melting of the internet of things and the internet of bodies. Attributes of a place, such as location, ownership, temperature settings, energy consumption, light conditions, positioning of objects in space, together with attributes of body and mind (heart rate, habits, working habits, sleep patterns, sexual orientation, gender, political beliefs, economic transactions) if analyzed together, can build datasets of significant scale to discover relevant patterns, define and identify change, describe those patternsand bring a decision advantage or predict future behavior.

The integration of multi-sensor, co-collected data allows the strengths of one data source to balance out the weaknesses of another, enabling analysts to create a complete picture of someone’s pattern of life. If we switch the perspective and use the pattern analysis against the person in question, it poses a significantly difficult argument for them to deny or obscure because of the multitude of observatory modes, difficult to mask simultaneously. Together with the ultimate multi-sensor device –  the smartphone, a perfect tool to gain information in real time, both in cyberspace and real space – we have theoretically a perfect pool of sources about someone we would like to study.

Diverse metadata collections on one entity may be stored scattered over in-house or third-party servers. Each cookie declaration of a website, Terms-of-Service site of an e-shop, or product information of an IoT device is supposed to inform the user about their data-trace and its destiny. Some data, including recording of phone calls with the public service, may land on the government servers. This passive storage of everyday data might seem harmless. Or, it might happen the data will be used in targeting advertisements on your phone or the next video in autoplay mode. However, specific events such as attending an anti-government demonstration or expressing specific views may trigger investigations of such databases by government entities or social media platforms.

[images source] https://cambridge-intelligence.com/pattern-of-life-analysis/



We have been so far speaking about the producers collecting the user‘s data through their products, their eventual storage and utilization through third parties and governments. The path of these data from the device in the internet of things to the node of the collection is vulnerable, either by hacking to spy on the household or by hijacking the data itself (e.g. in order to sell them on specific markets).

Let’s quantify this paranoia into numbers. According to the statistics from Review42, an average 2020 US household had 17 IoT devices. In Europe, the number of IoT devices on home networks was 14. The first pandemic year meant spending over $1 trillion on IoT. [5]

There were around 30.7 billion IoT connected devices [6], while China, North America, and western Europe accounted for 67% of IoT usage. [7] What’s more, the number of IoT devices is expected to surpass 75 billion by 2025. From January to June 2021, some 1.51 billion breaches of Internet of Things (IoT) devices took place, Kaspersky reported [8], an increase from 639 million in 2020.

According to Gartner, in 2018, 40% of smart home appliances connected to the internet globally were being used for botnet attacks, a kind of attacks that could mean, if executed on a massive and coordinated scale, destabilizing power grids (water, power, automated building management) on a regional level. They estimated this percentage to rise to 75 % by 2021. [9]

The (“smartified”) objects of everyday use tend to be underestimated by their users in terms of protection by their users. After all, who on Earth would want to hack your smart thermostat? This sense of safety proves false when someone actually does and you are, for instance, just slightly warmer in your living room than outside in December.  Most of the smart home devices are accessible to the inhabitants, as well as the intruders, through the home wi-fi network. ‘When someone hacks into just one connected device, they’re usually looking for a point of entry into the network,’ said John Grimm, senior director of strategy and business development at cybersecurity company nCipher Security. (…)He pointed to an incident in which a Las Vegas casino’s high-roller database was accessed through a smart thermometer in a fish tank. [10]

The authorities try to sort out the responsibilities involved in these accidents.

Data protection agencies suggest that although the manufacturers are making the devices to do their original function well, they aren’t doing enough to secure the access and online usage of the products they sell to the public.

The public is not aware of the prospective dangers and each season, the shops are flooded with new versions of the products. The customers don’t want to set up anything that seems to be complicated, and securing each smart device might sound like that. Even the FBI warns the general public [11] to take certain steps to secure wi-fi access to their IoT objects.

What adds up to the mess, is most of the time zero accountability from the manufacturer, simply stating you “need to have a better password for that device in your home network.”

[5] https://review42.com/resources/hacking-statistics/

[6] https://safeatlast.co/blog/iot-statistics/

[7] https://safeatlast.co/blog/iot-statistics/

[8] https://www.iotworldtoday.com/2021/09/17/iot-cyberattacks-escalate-in-2021-according-to-kaspersky/

[9] https://www.ft.com/content/2c17ff5e-4f02-11e8-ac41-759eee1efb74

[10] https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/business/2019/02/12/smart-home-devices-like-nest-thermostat-hacked/39049903/

[11] https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/portland/news/press-releases/tech-tuesday-internet-of-things-iot


The simulation of trust 

Many new parents seek ways to juggle care for their newborn children with other practical aspects of life. A device recording and transmitting live sound and video of the child’s crib to a smartphone, sometimes also called the video nanny, has become a tool for bringing certain physical autonomy to the parent and child, while being constantly online, ready to respond to sudden needs.

Pre-pandemic statistics speaking, 47% of all vulnerable devices on home networks are cameras [12]. Mothers reported movements of the cameras autonomous from the smartphone management, which points to another user than the caretakers. [13] The gain of such privacy breach for the perpetrators or voyeurs, besides observing the family’s life or rhythms, may be more directed to the theft of physical assets or confidential online data through Wi-Fi, such as passwords or banking information. However, on the wave of data, one might get to fundamental phenomenons. The accidental mistuning of the signal of a video nanny to another household than one’s own helped to discover and inspect the Kuřim scandal in 2008, one of the most appalling cases of child abuse in the Czech Republic known to date. [14]

[12] https://review42.com/resources/hacking-statistics/

[13] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/06/05/617196788/s-c-mom-says-baby-monitor-was-hacked-experts-say-many-devices-are-vulnerable?t=1647250493743

[14] https://mindlifetv.com/movies/torture-cannibalism-and-incestuous-sex-the-chilling-story-of-barbora-skrlova/


Nests and the warm home

Back in 2019, Arjun and Jessica Sud’s family experienced having their Nest camera system, watching over their household, baby, thermometers, and dogs hacked. The temperature inside went up by more than 10 degrees. The voice of a stranger used their Nest system to talk to the baby and for a false warning, claiming to be from Civil Defense. It said three ballistic missiles were aimed at Los Angeles, Chicago, and Ohio, and that President Donald Trump had been taken to a secure facility. The California-based family quickly called both Nest and 911 to check that the danger was not real while their child hid under the living room carpet in the horror of a missile hitting the place.
“I felt like I (was) trapped in an episode of ‘Black Mirror,’ ” Arjun Sud said, referring to a television series that explores the darker aspects of technology. “All these devices you’ve put in there to safeguard yourself, to protect your home, your family, (are) now being used maliciously to turn against you.’’ [15]

[15] https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/business/2019/02/12/smart-home-devices-like-nest-thermostat-hacked/39049903/


Voice misassistants

 Once on a rainy day, Kristin Livdahl’s daughter asked the voice assistant Alexa for a challenge. The day was boring and it was fun to try out challenging things. Via Echo, the 10-year-old girl was told to touch a live plug with a penny. Alexa said it “found it on the web.” Luckily, the mother had been present at that moment and the young girl had been aware of the danger of that suggestion. Although Amazon has updated its Alexa voice assistant after this incident, it uncovered its possible mishappenings, especially when we consider the constant presence of Amazon’s Echo in households. [16]

[16] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59810383

( ಠ ͜ʖರೃ)

Smart TV

There has been a lifestyle notion even pre-2020 that nesting is the new going out [17], that staying at home may be providing more relaxation after work than organizing social life out of the house. Viewing habits are valuable information for the content provider as well as third parties (as is the case of automatic content recognition with VizioTVs).

Laying back and watching a (streamed) movie is itself an activity feeding e.g. a system of recommendations as is the Netflix Recommendation Engine. Their most successful algorithm, Netflix Recommendation Engine (NRE),’is made up of algorithms which filter content based on each individual user profile. The engine filters over 3,000 titles at a time using 1,300 recommendation clusters based on user preferences. It’s so accurate that 80% of Netflix viewer activity is driven by personalized recommendations from the engine. It’s estimated that the NRE saves Netflix over $1 billion per year. According to reports, the growth of the global OTT marketplace is accelerating much more because of the pandemic. Previously, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) was 16%.
Post-pandemic, this number is expected to reach 19% by 2026, the market value could reach US$438.5 billion.’ [18]

Besides trading your watching experience with the provider, your smart TV can be an access gate to intruders in a specific way. “At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you,” explained the FBI. [19]

[17] https://edit.sundayriley.com/is-nesting-the-new-going-out/

[18] https://www.lighthouselabs.ca/en/blog/how-netflix-uses-data-to-optimize-their-product

[19] https://www.facebook.com/fox40/posts/at-the-low-end-of-the-risk-spectrum-they-can-change-channels-play-with-the-volum/10156735449027039/

(..) ( l: ) ( .-. ) ( :l ) (..)

A mirror with a memory

Besides playing favorite videos, conducted by voice of the user, the possibilities of contemporary smart mirrors reach out much further than being just a smart TV in the bathroom (which can get ordinarily hijacked). The sphere of beauty and wellness are increasingly being influenced by the quantified self movement: the traditional tools turn to gadgets and, in turn, can change our perception of physicality.

Packed with special software and custom AI, the high-end smart mirrors for beauty and fashion enthusiasts offer not only ultra-magnifying features to zoom every pore. These devices can remember and track the development of your skin conditions, evaluate it in terms of skin cancer risk or simply suggest you a specific make-up for this evening. [20] Using artificial intelligence, we can see the make-up product mapped to our face to decide if we like it. Some mirrors come with lights that are able to simulate diverse lightning conditions. [21]

Reversing the perspective, could this also be a way to obtain quite a good scan of someone’s face? What could that mean in the age of deep fakes?

[20] https://edit.sundayriley.com/are-smart-mirrors-ruining-our-lives/

[21] https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F11V72L/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=thesundayedit20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07F11V72L&linkId=5bfd0975b5c5719fc35e66c45f8f08f5

╰( ⁰ ਊ ⁰ )━☆゚.*・。゚

The Bluetooth paths

Bluetooth, a short-range wireless technology that connects devices up to 10 meters distance from each other, presents another virtual version of our personal lives. Playing favorite music through a Bluetooth speaker, sending photos to one’s computer.

The technology itself, or its concrete implementation into specific products and brands might be vulnerable to hacking (to hijack the data in the devices, or the content itself). In itself, it brings another stream to geospatial tracking analysis.

Since Bluetooth’s start in 1996, more and more applications make use also of its location tracking, including Facebook and Google. Even when the function is turned off on your device, the transmission itself is stopped, but nearby Bluetooth signals are still recognized. App makers may use these Bluetooth signals to pinpoint your location.

During the first pandemic year, the need for accurate microlocation tracking was rendered as essential in controlling the movement of the virus’ host. We speak now about precision in terms of centimetres and millimetres. First applications for contact tracking and tracing the human movement, e.g. the government app in the UK, started out with utilization of Bluetooth signal. [22] After some success, governments and startups switched to more specific location tracking signals, moving also eventually from mobile phones to wearable technology or sensor integration into homes. [23]

[22] https://www.derby.ac.uk/blog/covid19-track-trace-contact-smartphone-apps/

[23] https://volantechnology.com/


Tell me what you eat and I tell you who you are‘


Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, French philosopher, and gourmand said this in 1825. In the context of metadata collection, this statement is still valid.

In the pandemic daily routine, food has become even more central to people’s lives. As a result, the domestic environment has been reinvented as the new restaurant, the new pub, and new clubbing venue: these changes were mirrored in the content of the shopping basket. Restaurants closed the serving space and switched to delivery mode. Grocery stores, considered essential, were being kept open to everybody, so cooking from basic components and buying fresh products have become prevailing practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NielsenIQ, food groceries from online purchases grew 55% in 2020, up from 44% growth in 2019. A 2020 study from Indonesia about online grocery shopping points out the ‘factors influencing consumer intention to switch to online shopping include perceived risk, price-search intention, mobility, delivery time, adding that ‘gender moderates the influences of attitude, design and site image variables with online shopping interest’. [24] 

In April 2020, the demand for online groceries more than doubled in Italy. In the United Kingdom, Tesco’s online-grocery business went up to 16 percent of total country sales in the first quarter of 2020, from about 9 percent. Online supermarket Ocado Retail reported in April a tenfold increase in demand and web traffic up to 100 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. [25]

In the online grocery space existent on screens, consumers have to navigate and decide upon the food on different premises than just seeing, smelling, and touching the actual product. The sense of trust needs to be reinstated not only through the offline previous experience, but through simulation of knowledge and sensory experience of the food in question. 

In the growing demand and specific systematic position of grocery shopping, the fight for customers’ attention becomes tougher, and for a victorious consumption, the companies’ customers‘ data are invaluable for future prediction and shopping experience. On the other hand, using this data provides another worthy input into a pattern of life analysis.
In 2017, Instacart provided a dataset for a Kaggle Competition [26], which was a relational set of files describing customers’ orders over time. The dataset was anonymized and contained a sample of over 3 million grocery orders from more than 200,000 Instacart users. For each user, the dataset provided between 4 and 100 of their orders, with the sequence of products purchased in each order. The dataset also provided the week and hour of the day the order was placed and the relative measure of time between orders. 

The online grocery shopping datasets, be they anonymized and made public or kept for the companies’ optimization, present a precise corpus of behavioral knowledge. Their usage brings a question – how much will we be autonomous subjects in smart decision-making regarding feeding our physical bodies? Moreover, since the beginning of the pandemics in 2020, there have been several incidents reported by the FBI, called credential stuffing attacks, where hackers hijacked online accounts at grocery stores, restaurants, and food delivery services to drain user funds through fraudulent orders and to steal personal or financial data. [27]

[24] https://www.mdpi.com/2673-7116/1/2/6/pdf

[25] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/how-european-shoppers-will-buy-groceries-in-the-next-normal

[26] https://towardsdatascience.com/instacart-exploratory-analysis-fdd5e3f9bf60

[27] https://therecord.media/fbi-warns-of-credential-stuffing-attacks-against-grocery-and-food-delivery-services/


The all-seeing eye of productivity optimization

The wave of work from home brought diverse big and small companies and startups delivering videoconference tools to unprecedented popularity. Private conversations, companies’ internal processes, and the intimacy of family assemblies started to “be uploaded” as complementary action to the lockdowns and social distancing. Their respective security flaws and threats have also been magnified to unexpected numbers. There, we have been listening to Zoom, the most popular tool’s security issues such as strangers entering the video meetings and spamming them with inappropriate content, its eye and attention tracking, accessible to the administrator of the meeting. 

Moreover, trust, productivity, and secrecy were subjected to new quantification. In a real office, the productivity curve and breaks develop differently from a home office situation. There have been new tools for managers in development and usage, capable of tracking web activity, taking automatic screenshots of employees’ computer screens, or tracking the location via GPS of a smartphone, mouse movements, and keyboard strokes. Do these tools, such as Hubstaff or TimeDoctor really improve trust in a home office situation? Does the observed worker work more efficiently or simply more than they would do in a standard office? The CEO of HubStaff thinks that we do better when observed. [28] [29] Are the natural rhythms of one’s life rather disrupted by the invasion of work, or more, its surveillance?

[28] https://www.npr.org/2020/05/13/854014403/your-boss-is-watching-you-work-from-home-boom-leads-to-more-surveillance?t=1626794584583&t=1648480157777

[29] https://techpandemic.theglassroom.org/#hubstaff-app


The return of the fax

To use a distant printer as a messenger to the general, unexpecting public, had been a security vulnerability in the also pre-pandemic times, overtly to print out diverse messages.

Back in 2018, one bored hacker felt sympathetic to PewDePie’s Youtube Channel fight to stay the most popular YouTube account in the world at that time despite the threat to be taken over by the growing popularity of another Youtube channel. The hacker used an Internet of Things search engine called Shodan to find devices exposed to the internet. He was able to get 50,000 printers to print a message telling the surprised people to subscribe to PewDiePie’s channel and unfollow the rival.  

PewDiePie’s followers responded to the news on his channel: “Desperate times calls for desperate MEASUREMENTS,” said one. [30] [31]

In the pandemic year of 2020, roughly 28,000 printers printed out their owners an unexpected 5-step guide on how to protect their devices from hacking in cybersecurity. This was an ethical hacking event by the Cybernews researcher team. [32]

In the summer of 2021, hackers also attacked business receipt printers to promote pro-labor messages, according to a report from Vice and posts on Reddit. “Are you being underpaid?”, said one statement, and “How can McDonald’s in Denmark pay their staff $22 an hour and still manage to sell a Big Mac for less than in America?” is a message of another one. [33]

The covert operations done via the printer are in fact more dangerous to its owner, ranging from data theft, disabling the device, botnet attacks. Securing the devices with updates and antivirus has its limits and one way out of this will be buying new appliances after a certain time. This solution might lead to other problems.

[30] https://www.secureworld.io/industry-news/printer-hacking-attack-example

[31] https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/hacked-printer-pewdiepie/24842/

[32] https://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2020/08/31/800000-printers-vulnerable-28000-hacked/?sh=1e23b59d8a9f

[33] https://www.engadget.com/someone-is-hacking-receipt-printers-with-pro-worker-messages-115040881.html


The sewer trace

Wastewater (sewage) includes water from households or buildings (e. g. toilets, showers, sinks) which may contain human fecal waste, as well as water from non-household sources (such as rain and industrial use). Wastewater-based surveillance is a cost-effective, non-invasive mass testing strategy that can detect the consumption of certain chemicals or exposure to certain pathogens of a population. Wastewater from a sewershed (the community area served by a wastewater collection system) is collected as it flows into a treatment plant and then subjected to further chemical analysis.

As for the detection of viruses, wastewater testing has been used in several cases before the coronavirus pandemic. The idea itself is almost 100 years old, when, as of the 1930s, U.S. researchers recognized that the very same markers of disease that clinicians look for in stool samples could be measured in wastewater to track disease in entire populations; this was their investigation of Charleston, Detroit, Buffalo monitoring for polio in that time. // Constant monitoring may be used as an early warning, as was the case of eradication of polio in Israel in 2013. [34]

SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA (genetic material from the virus) is being shed in the stool by both symptomatic and asymptomatic people. Time is one of the most valuable modalities of infectious disease control. Wastewater testing can predict new outbreaks with a lead time of one to two weeks. [35] Highly localized wastewater surveillance provides an alternative to contact tracing, an intervention that has been difficult to implement in many countries.

A new study from UC San Diego demonstrates that wastewater surveillance can detect Covid-19 in a single infected, asymptomatic person living or working in a multi-unit dwelling such as a university campus building. Wastewater surveillance can detect a case up to 3 to 4 days before individual testing can. [36] A team of students and staff were deployed each morning to collect sewage samples from 126 collection robots set up to monitor 350 buildings. Each auto-sampler collects wastewater into a pre-labeled sample bottle. Both the auto-sampler and the sample bottle are associated with a unique barcode. The result for each sample is uniquely identified by time and place.

Sewer monitoring is implemented in several states of the world, such as Canada, the United States, and Slovakia. In the US, the CDC together with other federal agencies and states is developing a National Wastewater Surveillance System. The system is currently being piloted in 31 states, three cities, and two territories and the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are leading efforts to identify standards for wastewater sampling, testing, analysis, and reporting to the public health officials.’  The results are available to the public through CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. [37]

Besides USA and Canada, Slovakia also uses wastewater analysis as a supportive method to assess the dynamics of the virus spread. The Bureau for Public Health releases in hindsight a weekly overview of the data.  Like in other countries, also the Slovak Technical University and the Slovak Academy of Sciences research possible micro-sensor technology usage to automate wastewater surveillance. [38]

[34] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2135110/pdf/765.pdf

[35] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-020-0684-z

[36] https://journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/mSystems.00793-21

[37] https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#wastewater-surveillance

[38] https://www.stuba.sk/sk/diani-na-stu/prehlad-aktualit/odpadove-vody-dokazu-signalizovat-nastup-ochorenia-covid-19-zistili-vedci-stu.html?page_id=14236


On the wings of Pegasus

Though not the only Trojan horse spyware operating worldwide, Pegasus had been called the “most sophisticated” smartphone attack ever and was the first time that a malicious remote exploit used jailbreaking to gain unrestricted access to an iPhone. Once running on the smartphone, it is invisible: the difference in battery drainage can’t be spotted, no suspicious link needs to be clicked in order to install Pegasus. As a mythical winged horse, Pegasus travels swiftly through the air, helping Greek heroes and deities accomplish their missions. The spyware Pegasus has been aiding governments to read text messages, track calls, collect passwords, track location, access the target’s iPhone microphone and camera, and harvest information from apps. 

It has been used for surveillance of anti-regime activists, journalists [39],and political leaders around the world, reported in 23 countries, among them Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain, USA, UAE. In November 2021, Lajos Kósa, head of a parliamentary defense and law enforcement committee, admitted that Hungary had indeed purchased and used Pegasus, stating “I don’t see anything objectionable in it [40] large tech companies carry out much broader monitoring of citizens than the Hungarian state does.’//

[39] https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/08/eu-robustly-implement-new-export-rules-surveillance-tech


[40] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/07/20/heads-of-state-pegasus-spyware/




Smart watches

Wearable technology with stunning design is purchased very often by anxious parents for children who might be too forgetful about using a smartphone. The main intent of such a product is to be able to connect and let them know they are safe and eventually come later from school than expected. Translated into the options of telecommunication, it means to be reachable for a phone call initiated by the parent (who is not wearing the smartwatch in question), which presents at the same time the strongest vulnerability of this device. Furthermore, with unencrypted data transmissions, the smartwatches of many brands can be used remotely to capture camera snapshots, make phone calls, wiretap ongoing voice calls, access stored files, and track locations in real-time.

 In 2020, this was the case of Darren McCormack, a father of four children in Perth, who accidentally paired his smartwatch parental app with a children’s watch located somewhere in Switzerland. [41]

The software of the wearer and of the caretaker is often outsourced and programmed by several companies who might even implement undocumented and undisclosed spying backdoors, as was revealed by a Norwegian cybersecurity company mnemonic with the case of the Chinese manufacturer of smartwatches software Qihoo 360, implemented in Norway as Xplora. ‘The backdoor which was not documented for the consumers is activated by sending an encrypted text message. Harrison Sand and Erlend Leiknes, researchers at mnemonic, said that commands exist for surreptitiously reporting the watch’s real-time location, taking a snapshot and sending it to an Xplora server, and making a phone call that transmits all sounds within earshot.’ [42]

What is interesting in this context as well, is that in June 2020, Qihoo 360 was put on a US Commerce Department sanctions list. Reasons for this are ties to the Chinese government which make the company more likely to engage in “activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. [43]

In 2017, the federal regulator in Germany, Bundesnetzagentur, banned the usage of smartwatches, as it provided the opportunity for parents to call the children at school and listen to the lessons without prior consent: this was regarded as an unauthorized transmission and therefore unlawful. [44]

The mentioned incidents in 2017 led to a discussion and attempts for laws to regulate the privacy reach of these devices also on the level of EU administration.

[41] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-11/gps-tracking-watch-security-bug-data-breach-personal-info/11909478

[42] https://www.mnemonic.no/blog/exposing-backdoor-consumer-products/

[43] https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/10/a-watch-designed-exclusively-for-kids-has-an-undocumented-spying-backdoor/

[44] https://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2017/17112017_Verbraucherschutz.html?nn=265778


Vacuuming sucks

It actually sucks in a complex way, with the use of complex mapping technologies, such as capturing the surroundings with a camera, lidar (laser-based mapping technology), gyroscope, wheel sensors (based on light), infrared-based sensors (cliff sensors, obstacle sensors, wall sensors.
Based upon the collected information, the robotic vacuum cleaner creates a map, knowing the exact surface and dimensions of walls and the positioning of furniture. It also collects biological material, such as hair of the human and animal inhabitants of a space, fallen skin, trimmed nails, fine bits of junk food from your last movie night. [

‘The device can quickly learn the surroundings that it needs to know for cleaning purposes. This vacuum can capture up to 30,000 data points in the blink of an eye, creating an internal memory of the home so that it misses nothing during cleanup.’ [46]

Though there is some open-source resource that can teach you to turn your robotic vacuum cleaner into a speaker to play your favorite music, the perspective of this particular device from the outside can be less of a fun: the camera can be operated by third parties to photograph your place, or the Lidar technology converted into an eavesdropping tool. similar to a Cold War period laser microphone invented by Leonard Theremin. [47]

These risks are connected to the presence. However, in the future, could it possibly track and analyze the less presentable side of our physical existences, e.g. vacuumed dirt of our lovely homes, maintaining a regular overview of the biological rhythms of a place?

[45] https://global.dreametech.com/blogs/blog/how-do-robot-vacuums-navigate

[46] https://global.dreametech.com/blogs/blog/how-do-robot-vacuums-navigate

[47] https://www.newsroom.hlf-foundation.org/blog/article.html?tx_news_pi1%5Baction%5D=detail&tx_news_pi1%5Bcontroller%5D=News&tx_news_pi1%5Bnews%5D=279&cHash=c893d4191cae3378975d38ff326f884b

╰( ⁰ ਊ ⁰ )━ ರೃꍓ艸ꍓᏊ

Smoke signals

Around 60 % of IoT worldwide serve in the industry and companies. It is strongly recommended that the industrial IoT devices are not connected to the standard wireless network. However, in the home environment, they are mostly operated via a smartphone app/voice assistant. Smoke detectors connected to fire alarms are the section of building security whose malfunctioning bears serious consequences, either by running the fire protection without the real fire danger and creating disruption of processes, or the other way round, endangering people, animals and property. In 2021, 226 000 Kidde smart smoke detectors were revoked as the manufacturer discovered they might fail to alert their users. [48]

[48] https://eu.usatoday.com/story/money/shopping/2021/05/06/smoke-detector-recall-kidde-trusense-recalls-alarms-fire-risk/4978726001/

(☞゚∀゚)☞ ᕦ(⩾﹏⩽)ᕥ [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°̲̅)̲̅$̲̅]

The quantified fitness

The idea of tracking health to provide faster and accurate care and to predict the development of a condition connects with the idea of quantified self-movement as well as smart marketing of products, processes such as period, ovulation,and pregnancy tracking, or tracking the health of senior citizens. [49] In 2021, there was a documented database leak of fitness information together with identity information of 61 million users of fitness tracking devices across the world, sources including Fitbit, Misfit Wearables, Microsoft Band, and Google Fit. [50]

The pandemic condition brought a boost to diverse startups to design wearables that monitor bodily functions: the connection of these projects with governments went suddenly strongly in favor of the public opinion. Moreover, governments across the world were suddenly obligating citizens to be tracked with their Covid-19 status and processthose data. In 2020, the team of Nethemba discovered a massive vulnerability while ordinarily using the application of the Slovak centralized healthcare information system NCZI (National Center of Healthcare Information). By it, they were able to access PCR/antigen test results connected with the personal data of altogether 390 000 citizens. As their warning and the ethical procedure were officially published and communicated with the government institution, Nethemba was accused of misusing the data. In 2021, the vaccination status and information on transversing the borders were again not enough protected. Despite the warnings by Nethemba in 2020 and 2021, NCZI seems to further operate in a way that poses a danger of theft of the citizens’ data. [51]

Here we step to the question of appropriateness and regulation. If the public sector regulates the data used by the private sector, who regulates and corrects then the public sector?

[49] https://techpandemic.theglassroom.org/#carepredict-tech

[50] https://www.zdnet.com/article/over-60-million-records-exposed-in-wearable-fitness-tracking-data-breach-via-unsecured-database/

[51] https://nethemba.com/sk/kriticka-zranitelnost-v-aplikacii-moje-ezdravie-unik-databazy-pacientov-testovanych-na-covid-19/


(•̀ᴗ•́)و o##o>

Steering your (own) car

A status symbol, most often of autonomous movement and of coming of age, a car is not just a vehicle of transport. The hacking of smart car systems becomes even more ironic. A quickly expanding industry of smart cars also expands the possibility of hacking and hijacking vehicles. Just recently, a 19-year old security researcher managed to open car doors of over 20 Teslas remotely. [52]

[52] https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/1/12/teenager-says-he-remotely-hacked-into-more-than-25-teslas


Drone sounds

Since 2019, once exclusive and expensive drone technology has stepped down to the general consumer and so did the public regulations on drone technology. No wonder that in the pandemic setting, there have been drones in development that can sense body temperature and heart rate. Their usage can help to enforce quarantine measurements on people.[53]

[53] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MabYf9o_2dE

⚆ _ ⚆ ♪[(。☉_ ⊙。)]

Smart doorbell

October 2020, BBC [54] reporting:
‘”When he left the house, that’s when I started to see that he was using the Ring doorbell camera to track me,” says Kate, who is using a pseudonym. She is referring to Amazon’s internet-connected security device. It triggers alerts when it detects motion in front of a home and allows live footage or recordings to be watched from a far.

“I could take the battery out of it if I wanted to, but I didn’t feel like I could because he would say to me, ‘You’re compromising our children’s safety“I was worried that he would go to the police and try and suggest that I’m a bad mother.”

⚆ _ ⚆ ♪[(。☉_ ⊙。)]

Smart doorbell

October 2020, BBC [54] reporting:
‘”When he left the house, that’s when I started to see that he was using the Ring doorbell camera to track me,” says Kate, who is using a pseudonym. She is referring to Amazon’s internet-connected security device. It triggers alerts when it detects motion in front of a home and allows live footage or recordings to be watched from a far.

“I could take the battery out of it if I wanted to, but I didn’t feel like I could because he would say to me, ‘You’re compromising our children’s safety. “I was worried that he would go to the police and try and suggest that I’m a bad mother.”’

[54] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54554408

( ͡°( ͡° ͜ʖ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)ʖ ͡°) ͡°)

Text Prompts

“heroic robotic vacuum cleaner in hall stock photo bokeh DSLR Unreal Engine HDR flickering light Kodak Ektar chromatic aberration ambient occlusion volumetric lightning tilt shift 35 mm 8k tilt shift” – weight: 1

Initial Resolution






Overall Prompt Weight


Accuracy boost


Conclusion + credits

What connects the devices and technologies presented in this project is the notion of ‘a better life’ these tools are supposed to bring, without much questioning of what a better life should be (the ‘device paradigm’ of Albert Borgmann). The amplification of technological structures of comfort and care creates neither total control nor total autonomy of the household unit.

The notion of a home that is safe from illnesses, safe from outside presents an illusion, or, rather, a simulation. Simulation has a reference to a model, but not necessarily to physical space: this is also the case with the images presented in this project.

The images you can see here are a result of image generation using the artificial neural network CLIP.  An artificial neural network is a series of algorithms that tries to recognize underlying relationships in a set of data in a process that is similar to the human brain’s operations: there are signals being sent, processed, and received by neurons. In this sense, neural networks refer to systems of neurons (called nodes in this case).

CLIP is an artificial neural network model which combines knowledge of English language concepts and the semantic knowledge of images. The acronym CLIP comes from Contrastive Language-Image Pre-Training. It was first published by OpenAI in January 2021.  [57] The main idea behind CLIP is to pre-train a neural language model and an image classification model which together use vast amounts of image data extracted directly from the Internet with their respective captions. [58] Once it is trained, this neural network can generate new images from nothing but random noise.

The neural network was given starting images from Martina Šimkovičová. The final works presented here were generated not from random noise, following the text prompts, but interpreting the input photographs in a semantic way.

The series of images, speaking of its origin, is a resolution of a loop of reality fragmentation, its technical caption, its decoding, and recoding. The very idea of mimicking reality through keywords and datasets seems to me as an ideal means to speak of the metadata society (Matteo Pasquinelli’s term) [59] in which the large datasets as sources of cognitive capital and political power aren’t only accumulated, but meta-analyzed and used for interpretation and forecasting possible future(s).

[57] https://openai.com/blog/clip/

[58] https://towardsdatascience.com/generating-images-from-prompts-using-clip-and-stylegan-1f9ed495ddda

[59] https://matteopasquinelli.com/metadata-society/


Supported by Slovak Arts Council

Images Martina Šimkovičová

Texts Martina Šimkovičová

Design Alžbeta Halušková

Translation and proofreading: Nina Vlhová

Coding: Matúš Bosák