Laser Hacks Siri, Alexa, & Google Assistant; Google Program Rewards App Downloads; iPhone 12 Feature Rumors; Apple May Be Partnering With Valve on AR Headset

It sounds like something out of James Bond, but researchers have figured out how to use lasers to inject commands into voice activated systems like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. reports that the system…called Light Commands, can also work on Facebook Portal and a variety of phones. They shoot a low powered laser into the systems from as far away as 360 feet, and can make the device perform tasks on gadgets it controls or over the web. Examples given were: unlocking doors, locating, unlocking, and starting vehicles, visiting websites, and more. Since the voice systems often don’t require that a user authenticate themselves, the laser exploits a vulnerability in microphones that use micro-electro-mechanical systems. (MEMS). The microscopic components in the system unintentionally responds to light as if it were sound. Before you freak out completely, keep in mind that the laser needs direct line of sight to the device, and has to be aimed precisely at a very specific part of the microphone. Also, when activated, all the voice systems respond first, so if someone is around, they will hear the device reply and know something is up.

If you have given up entirely on the concept of privacy, and figure there isn’t much Google doesn’t already know, here’s something that might be for you…that is, if you spend significant time and money on apps and media from Google’s Play store. According to, Google has launched a new rewards program in the US. The program has been live in Japan and South Korea, where Google says there are now ‘millions’ of users. It’s called Google Play Points. The program is free to join, and you earn Play Points on everything you buy (in-app items, movies, books, subscriptions, etc.), in addition to featured free apps and games. There are also weekly points events to boost the rate at which you can earn Play Points. The plan has 4 levels, with the usual labels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. You can use points for weekly prizes, or even donate them to a non-profit of your choice. Hit the Google Play Store and tap Play Points for details or to sign up.

As usual, rumors started about the iPhone 12 before the 11 was even out, and continue…building to a climax by next summer. Here’s one from a less solid source than we usually get: there will be a new TrueDepth cam system that is much smaller…and will fit in a small bezel at the top of the screen, eliminating the dreaded (by some) ‘notch.’ notes this comes from a graphic designer with an iffy track record, so don’t plan your pre-order yet. Another rumor is probably on solid ground…Apple may be bringing ‘Pro Motion’ over from its iPad Pros to the phones. This incorporates a 120Hz screen refresh rate instead of the 60Hz one on all Apple phones up to now. Apple watchers say this will bring an eye-popping experience to using the iPhone screens that will amaze and delight users. Stay tuned for this one!

On the topic of Apple, we have previously reported that Cupertino plans to launch their AR glasses in 2020. Now, DigiTimes says they may be partnering with Valve to develop AR head mounted display devices. Valve is the company behind the popular Steam digital storefront and delivery platform, and they introduced their first VR headset, Valve Index, last April. According to highly reliable Apple Watcher Ming-Chi Kuo, the Apple AR headsets could be going into production this quarter, with a launch planned for early 2020!


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