Use this tool to see where your smart home devices are sending data

princeton iot inspector smart home data tool 44405377564 a5d8d1d507 o
Mike MacKenzie/Flickr

It might feel like your collection of smart home devices are just communicating with each other and with you. Odds are, that isn’t the case. The data from your devices can be sent all over the place to communicate with servers and may even be in the hands of people that you might not expect. Now, thanks to some savvy researchers at Princeton University, you can monitor your smart devices and see exactly what kind of information they are collecting and sharing.

A new tool called Princeton IoT Inspector, available for MacOS, offers an easy-to-install and configure option to better understand how your smart home devices communicate and behave while in your home. To be clear, this tool is essentially designed to spy on your home. It utilizes similar tactics that a bad actor might use to discover what is running on a network. Except instead of exploiting that information, the tool collects data that can be analyzed by you and by the team of researchers.

If you use the open-source tool, you’ll want to clearly understand that you are participating in a research project. Some data from your devices will be collected and shared with the Princeton researchers via a secure server to be used as part of a research paper — you can take a look at exactly what they will and won’t be able to collect on the FAQ page for the app, which lays out in excruciating detail exactly how the process works. You’ll also have to sign a consent form before using the tool, so you know just how seriously the team behind IoT Inspector is taking its task.

Once you have been fully informed about the tool, how it works, and what it will collect, you can finally start using it. IoT Inspector will automatically detect common devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, though you might have to help it identify others. Once it spots a connected device, it starts to gather information from them and shows you how those products communicate. It will highlight how active they are, who they are communicating with, and more.

Once you have Princeton IoT Inspector on your Mac, you might find it useful outside of your own home. As Gizmodo points out, you might want to use it to give a scan to your Airbnb to make sure there aren’t any hidden cameras or other spying devices set up without your knowledge.

Emerging Tech

Astronomers surprised to find deep lakes of methane on Titan

In the two years since the Cassini probe burned up in Saturn's rings, data from its recordings is still being analyzed. The latest research has shown that Saturn's largest moon, Titan, hosts deep liquid lakes of methane on its surface.

Make some room in your backlog. Here are all the games to look out for in 2019

2019 is already a huge year for video games, with a large number of series getting new installments, including some that have been dormant for years. Brand new franchises are also being created.
Social Media

Facebook says it unintentionally uploaded email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook says that over the last two years it unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users as they signed up to the social networking service. The process has ended and the email addresses are being deleted.

Cuphead bosses ranked from easiest to hardest to wallop

Cuphead is notorious for being an exceedingly tough boss rush game. Now that the gorgeous action game has arrived on Nintendo Switch, we decided to rank all 19 of its bosses from easiest to hardest.
Smart Home

SMEG debuts colorful dual-fuel Portofino 48-inch ranges for no-compromise cooks

When SMEG launches new kitchen appliances, you can count on retro-classic design, gorgeous high-end finishes, envy-inducing functional wizardry, and lofty prices. This week SMEG launched its Portofino Dual-Fuel 48-inch Pro-Style Range.

Walmart offers big price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet and Farberware

Walmart made deep price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet, Farberware, and others. Air frying is faster, healthier, and easier to clean than traditional deep frying. You also can use most air fryers for baking, roasting, and grilling.
Product Review

4K in home security is finally here, thanks to Arlo’s Ultra UHD smart cam

The 4K home security camera is finally here! Class-leading image clarity and a super-wide field of vision makes Arlo Ultra an early contender for the year’s best smart cam. While there are definite quirks to the device, the device…

Amazon drops a killer Instant Pot deal, with prices under $60

Instant Pots are the popular kitchen device known for making cooking easier and faster. Thinking of finally getting yourself one? Amazon dropped the price of the Instant Pot Duo Mini. Prepare delicious meals this Easter Sunday with this…
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Smart Home

Ecobee leverages humor in a heated discussion with climate change skeptics

Ecobee cranked up the heat on climate change doubters. In observance of Earth Day, Ecobee and ad agency DCX released video of a social experiment that tested the effectiveness of humor in easing tension during discussions with skeptics.
Smart Home

Miele stuns with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and other new products

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.

Shark, Ecovacs, and Roomba robot vacuums get price cuts for spring

The weather's getting nice again, and we're all emerging from our winter-long hibernation. So it's time once again to also start on that spring cleaning you've been putting off. But who really wants to clean when you'd rather be outside? We…
Smart Home

Echo Plus (1st-gen) vs. Echo Plus (2nd-gen): How exactly do they compare?

Which Echo Plus should you buy? This guide compares the first-generation Echo Plus its latest successor, allowing you to get a better idea regarding the ins and outs of each device.
Smart Home

Making hard-boiled eggs isn’t hard — here’s how to do it perfectly every time

With the help of science or some kitchen gadgets, making hard-boiled eggs can be a little easier. It may not be the hardest task in the world, but a few of these methods are foolproof.