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GE Is 3-D Printing An Anti-Hacking Device Designed By The Founder of 4Chan

For the pants-free prone Skype user or the always-paranoid friend in your life, the Spy Block is the standout gift design from a random group of celebrities who just gave 3-D printing their best shot.

GE Is 3-D Printing An Anti-Hacking Device Designed By The Founder of 4Chan

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now… 3-D Printing Tuesday! Soon there will be no day between Thanksgiving and Christmas that isn’t some kind of corporate holiday.

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But at least the founding father of this holiday, GE, isn’t hawking printers, but giving away 3-D-printed gifts–gifts designed by one of the strangest farm team ever assembled for purposes of design. It includes Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow (the “smartest man in sports”), Tina “Bag Snob” Craig, and Al Roker.

Most of their creations–like most consumer-grade 3-D printed items–will primarily serve as conversation pieces for a very specific kind of conversation. (“This thing was 3-D printed!”) But one design stands out, and not just because its creator founded the infamous 4Chan message boards. Christopher Poole aka moot–whose more recent activities including more wholesome creations like iPad drawing app DrawQuest–has designed something called the “Spy Block,” which seems intended to provoke a conversation about, well, spying. It is essentially a lens cap for your laptop, with a big bold “Spy Block” name on the other side.


“My initial idea was a cover for the Google Glass camera, but since I didn’t have access to Glass I decided to go with something more universal,” says Poole.

For anyone who has read about webcam hacking and has a certain level of paranoia, but who doesn’t want duct tape goo on his or her precious technology, the idea has a certain amount of functional appeal. Poole sees a different use case. “I don’t actually think the government is watching you get dressed in the morning,” he says, “but do see a practical application for people who work from home and Skype often who also have questionable pants-wearing habits.”

Read: Print These 20 Things You Don’t Need And 3-D Printing Pays For Itself.

As for its more-likely role as a thought-provoking gimmick, despite the “Spy Block” label on the reverse side, Poole seems noncommittal about exactly what kind of thoughts the “Spy Block” is supposed to provoke. “I hope it’s a conversation starter if people use them in public or have them in use at home,” says Poole. “What specifically that conversation is isn’t a huge hangup of mine.”

What those conversations will be also remains to be seen. Poole himself says he doesn’t have one yet, and will only get one today, when they finally go into production. You can try to get your own by tweeting a request with the hashtag #3DPrintMyGift–or, if you own your own your own 3-D printer, you can print one as soon as Poole puts the designs in the Thingiverse later this week.

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About the author

Stan Alcorn is a print, radio and video journalist, regularly reporting for WNYC and NPR. He grew up in New Mexico.

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