Spy Tools of the Future

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What if spies could decode sound vibrations passing through leaves, water and other everyday objects?

Spies of the future will use algorithms to gather information that humans could never dream of capturing. In an astounding breakthrough, scientists are learning how to decode “intelligible speech” by analyzing videotaped sound vibrations. Science Daily has more:

researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass. In other experiments, they extracted useful audio signals from videos of aluminum foil, the surface of a glass of water, and even the leaves of a potted plant.

In this hypothetical future, no space would be completely sound-proof. To keep a secret, you would have to control your invisible vibrations. This technology could also be used to reconstruct conversations from silent movies and Super-8 cameras.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell proved that they could use portable cameras on wearable devices like Google Glass to capture and decode passwords. Wired has more about this breakthrough:

they could use video from wearables like Google Glass and the Samsung smartwatch to surreptitiously pick up four-digit PIN codes typed onto an iPad from almost 10 feet away—and from nearly 150 feet with a high-def camcorder. Their software, which used a custom-coded video recognition algorithm that tracks the shadows from finger taps, could spot the codes even when the video didn’t capture any images on the target devices’ displays.

How could spies of the future use these new technologies? How could people keep secrets in this kind of world?

(Vibrating Energy image via Franco)

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