An Eavesdropping Lamp That Livetweets Private Conversations

Conversnitch is a device built for less than $100 that resembles a lamp. This device listens to nearby conversations and posts snippets of transcribed audio to Twitter.

The creators, Kyle McDonald and Brian House hope to raise questions about the nature of public and private spaces when anything can be broadcast by internet-connected listening devices.

The gadget is constructed from a Raspberry Pi miniature computer, a microphone, an LED and a plastic flower pot. It is powered by any standard bulb socket. The audio is captured and uploaded, via the nearest open Wi-Fi network to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, that post lines of conversation to their twitter account.

I think this is interesting because proves that conversations might not be private anymore. This device was in many places where people thought no one was listening to them. It is open source so anyone can recreate this experiment in a place near you.


Twitter with the conversations:

Video showing someone installing these gadgets:

Code on GitHub:




23 thoughts on “An Eavesdropping Lamp That Livetweets Private Conversations

  1. I feel there are a lot of legal issues with this. They are recording conversations without consent from the people they are recording, and depending on where they put these there could be a lot of legal matters that could happen.

  2. I don’t feel like its too much of a problem the conversations are being posted but they are edit to leave out important information when posted to twitter if you wanna have a private conversation do it at home

  3. This is really sneaky way to get information. Seems like this would not be legal.

    • Yeah, this would get someone in a lot of trouble if it were found. Seems like a similar penalty to wire tapping someones house.

  4. I think that there is more to it than just being able to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. There has to be some kind of gain for showing how to make such a device.

  5. This is an interesting little project that shows just how easy it is to listen in on people’s public conversations. The technology isn’t groundbreaking and the government has been doing this for years, but it’s still a cool idea.

  6. This is really eye opening, showing just how easy it is to spy on people, and exploit peoples trust in certain environments. Info Security is a scary thing, and it seems that in order to fight it, you have to be quite paranoid.

    • I agree, I wouldn’t have even thought that people were eavesdropping on me from a plant in the room. But now that I think about it… even a simple microphone and raspberry pi under the desks in our labs would do the trick. Its pretty interesting and I actually am starting to wonder if anyone has tried doing this in a bank to get peoples bank accounts or passwords when they tell the employee their info.

      • Other than a bank you can also put these in a doctors office to hear peoples personal information. In fact anywhere that personal information or acts transpire in can be a target. Who knows, a smart hacker could even put one in a gentlemen’s club and blackmail big name people who enter.

      • ^reply to rmg5445…. Yeah if they put one in a gentlemans club I’d be in trouble.. but yeah doctors offices, hospitals, even get one of the foreign gardeners to put a plant or two in big business offices and find out plans for new technology and such to gather information on competitors.

  7. Its not the fact that the conversations are being posted to twitter that bothers me, its the fact that the conversations are being recorded without the persons consent. Also what stops someone from putting this technology in your house, or other places, to listen to the conversations that you are having.

    • Yes, I agree with you.
      This device invades someone’s property, and is so simple that anyone can use it.
      People can get paranoid if search too much about devices like this.

    • It would also be illegal i’m pretty sure. Since it’s just as close to recording a person without consent.

  8. Im still a little confused why they were tweeting it… you only get like 150 characters… Is it tweeting a tonnn of times a minutes, and what does it type when its just random noise in the room. Its an awesome concept but putting it to word form must just be like a haha we can do this with todays technology. Even though half the tweets will just be random junk.. still cool though

Comments are closed.