Academic cybersecurity (opens in new tab) researchers from Singapore and South Korea have repurposed the time-of-flight (ToF) sensors in smartphone (opens in new tab) cameras to help spot concealed spy cams.
ToF sensors help resolve distance between the camera and the subject, and have started showing up in smartphones recently. For instance, Apple's iPhone 12 (opens in new tab), iPhone 13 (opens in new tab), and Samsung’s Galaxy S20+ (opens in new tab), among several others (opens in new tab), all include a laser-based Sony ToF sensor (opens in new tab) that’s used for augmented reality applications, and for adding depth information to 2D imagery.
The Register (opens in new tab) spotted a paper by Sriram Sami, Bangjie Sun, and Sean Rui Xiang Tan, from National University of Singapore, and Jun Han from Yonsei University, where they describe a novel strategy to use ToF to spot hidden spy cams in hotel rooms and washrooms.
We're looking at how our readers use VPNs with streaming sites like Netflix so we can improve our content and offer better advice. This survey won't take more than 60 seconds of your time, and we'd hugely appreciate if you'd share your experiences with us.
>> Click here to start the survey in a new window (opens in new tab) <<
Spot the naught
Building a case for their solution, the researchers note that the current generation of devices that are designed to find these miniscule spy cameras have low detection rates. Moreover, proposals to detect the spy cameras using their wireless traffic could help detect their presence, but won’t help pinpoint their location.
In their paper presented at the 19th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems earlier this week, the researchers described their solution dubbed Laser-Assisted Photography Detection (LAPD), which overcomes the limitations of traditional approaches by using ToF sensors on commodity smartphones.
“We implement LAPD as a smartphone app that emits laser signals from the ToF sensor, and use computer vision and machine learning techniques to locate the unique reflections from hidden cameras,” explain (opens in new tab) the researchers in their paper.
The researchers field tested LAPD with the help of 379 participants and the system achieved an 88.9% hidden camera detection rate.
Stay clear of online scams by shield yourself with these best identity theft protection services (opens in new tab)