Google has sold over 7,5 million Google Home speakers. Making it possible to ask Google anything from almost every room in your house. People ask for answers to be found on the internet and step-by-step guides for a good meal, and let their Google Home operate the TV, Sound System, lighting and even the locks on the doors. Isn’t it strange that your best friend around the house doesn’t accept a nickname? With a little help, it does!

Hey Google, not hey Blackbeard

There are two ways of alerting the Google Home speaker. And sadly, they’re very similar. Only the variation of Hey or Ok Google lets the Assistant pay attention to you. If you want to give the assistant a different name it either doesn’t understand you (probably fakes it to ignore your request). You’ll know because it gives a standard answer like: ‘You can call me helpful and friendly. But I’ll only respond to Google Assistant’. In some cases, it even distracts you by telling you that if it did want a nickname, it will have to be a cool nickname like Edward Teach’s nickname. Asking Google what his nickname is, gives you a search result with the answer. Curious? I already gave it away in the title!

Danish designer changes Google’s name

Bjorn Karmann is a designer from Denmark who currently lives in Amsterdam. He wanted two things

  1. To give Google Assistant any name he wanted.
  2. Give people more privacy

Hence he created a teachable ‘parasite’ that fits on the basic Google Home devices. And even on the Amazon Alexa speaker. The custom mount is called ‘Alias’ and is combined with an app that can train Alias to react to a custom name, word or even a custom sound to wake up your device. Making it possible to finally change the name of your Google Assistant to anything you want. With Alias you don’t even have to give the ‘Hey’ or ‘Ok’ combination, anything will work. What’s keeping you from coming home and saying: ‘Jarvis, turn on the lights for me please’?

Noisy parasite

Alias is a plastic blob fitted with a Raspberry Pi that fits on top of the Google Home speaker. It activates the Google Home speaker with your chosen name or word and has an extra feature: it gives you more privacy by making it impossible for Google to listen in on any conversation you’re having near the device. Alias does this by constantly playing white noise that’s inaudible to the human ear. But ‘deafens’ the Google Home when it’s not called upon by you. Very nice.

The DIY speakerbug

Can’t wait to give Google a nickname? You can get your own Alias by building it yourself. Bjorn left a detailed explanation on Instructables with all the steps and ingredients to build Alias yourself. But be warned, you’ll need a few tools and access to a 3d-printer.

The main components are

  • 1x Raspberry Pi A+
  • 1x ReSpeaker 2-mics Pi HAT
  • 2x Tiny Speaker 16mm
  • 4x small wood screws (ca. 10mm)
  • Micro SD card
  • Wires
  • JST 2.0 connector or an old Jack-cable

If you’ve got that all you need is a soldering iron, wire stripper, screwdriver and a way to flash a micro SD on your computer. This seems difficult and a lot of work. But you can certainly find a 3d printing service online. And soldering and flashing SD-cards are fairly easy to learn with a few tutorials on Youtube.

The only sad part is, there is no Alias shell for the Google Home Mini or Max. Yet.

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