Gyroscopes in mobile devices to be used as microphones

A new use has been found for the gyroscopes in our mobile devices, the part responsible for motion-sensing. Turns out, they can be used as microphones now.


The gyroscopes found in our mobile devices have a new use, according to a new research paper by a group of researchers. Yan Michalevsky, Dan Boneh and Gabi Nakibly found out that besides motion-sensing, they too can act as microphones which is sort of freaky because it’s an accidental feature that mobile apps don’t really have to ask for permission to use.

When the users move their devices, the mass that the gyroscopes detect moves as well so sensors can pick up on changes in orientation or direction. But, as they detail in Gyrophone: Recognizing Speech from Gyroscope Signals, they can also pick up sound. What this implies is that, because apps don’t let you know if they are accessing the devices’ gyroscope or not, it potentially opens the door for remote listening or even recording by using them.

Android users are, allegedly, more vulnerable to this use than iOS users as the difference in the rates at which gyroscopes detect motion is more noticeable. Google has claimed to be aware of this vulnerability, and is working to patch this potential security hole.

Don’t just go dumping your smartphone because of this, though, as even the researchers claim that this data is not all that useful by itself. but via the use of speech processing algorithms or software, who knows. The most likely way to get results, though, would be cross-referencing data from several nearby devices at the same time. Still, sounds pretty 1984-ish, right?

Via Technabob

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