Adam Bellas paid close attention to the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal around the collection and use of people’s private data.
As a systems architect for multiple businesses including, at one point, Full Sail University, privacy has become something of a trade for him.
So he took notice when the scandal started to receive mainstream media coverage.
“Cambridge Analytica really brought it home to people,” Bellas said. “It brought home how much privacy we had given up and how it could be used against us.”
The 42-year-old Orlando resident has helped launch an effort he hopes will counter that and give consumers a way to reclaim some of that privacy.
The Kickstarter launch
On Sept. 1, he and two partners launched a Kickstarter for a device that can shut off smart speakers and other devices that might be capturing conversations.
Users can set several variables of a BuzzOff device.
They can set how long an interruption will last or maybe customize the interruption for specific devices.
An initial Kickstarter push raised more than $2,000 but the campaign remains about $10,000 shy of its goal.
Bellas expects to measure the Kickstarter’s success in more ways than just funding.
“It helps us showcase to other investors that people are putting their money where their mouth is,” Bellas said.
Electric Chateau launches in March
The company Electric Chateau, which includes BuzzOff as a product, launched in March.
Bellas and his cofounders – Doug Classe and Darren Humphrey – went after it fulltime after a couple of years of the business being a side project.
Humphrey, a retired business owner, said he wanted a way to use technology for good when he stumbled upon the idea.
“I was working on building Alexa-controlled technology when I realized no one was looking at the elephant in the room: who controls Alexa?” he said.
That’s where the BuzzOff idea was born.
When Bellas moved to Florida from Maine in 1999, he did so as the Internet first started to flourish.
Full Sail grad makes good
After earning a degree from Full Sail University, the school hired him as a web developer.
He became one of the architects behind the college’s online presence.
A self-described “tinkerer and geek-culture enthusiast,” he
“I had been a tinkerer and geek culture enthusiast my whole life,” he said.
HIs immersion in the industry revealed some drawbacks, however.
“I know what’s possible and where it can go,” he said. “That’s what brought me onboard.”
If things work out the way Bellas and the team wants, this won’t be a one-time deal.
They plan to turn Electric Chateau into a product company that focuses on privacy.
As the popularity of devices like Apple HomePod and or Google Assistant grow, it could lead to more interest in BuzzOff.
To Bellas, it’s another way to use the technology he has been practically raised on professionally.
“I have always loved using technology as a tool and the toolset gets bigger every year,” he said. “When you talk to a client or customer, it’s important to know which tool to reach out and grab for. That is where expertise grows.”
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