Greasy Spyware: Researchers Recover Audio from Chip Bag

Greasy Spyware: Researchers Recover Audio from Chip Bag

MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have been working together to create this little wonder.

Researchers from MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have created an algorithm that can intelligibly reconstruct an audio signal from minute vibrations in objects. In one experiment, the team was able to recover speech from the vibrations of a potato chip bag, photographed at a 15 foot distance through soundproof glass.

"When sound hits an object, it causes the object to vibrate," says Abe Davis, MIT grad student and first author of the research paper. "The motion of this vibration creates a very subtle visual signal that's usually invisible to the naked eye. People didn't realize that this information was there."

In addition to the potato chip grab, the team was able to recover useful audio from aluminium foil, the surface of a glass of water, and the leaves of a potted plant. The success of the experiment depends on decent video samples, and in some experiments the researchers used a high-speed camera capable of capturing 2,000 to 6,000 frames per second. However the team was able to obtain useful data even from an ordinary digital camera at 60 frames per second; it wasn't perfect, but the 60 frame solution is good enough to identify the gender of the speaker, the number of speakers, and possibly even their identities.

While the spycraft connection is pretty clear-cut, its inventors hope it can be used for what is described as a new kind of imaging. The team is very interested in the material properties of the objects it examines, and their response to bursts of sound. The previously invisible - a baby's breathing, the pulse in your wrist - suddenly becomes visible, making for an entirely new kind of video capture.

"I'm sure there will be applications that nobody will expect," says Davis. "I think the hallmark of good science is when you do something just because it's cool and then somebody turns around and uses it for something you never imagined. It's really nice to have this type of creative stuff."

The team will present its findings in a paper at this year's Siggraph computer graphics conference.

Source: MIT

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Instead of a way to capture audio I missed succumbing to the temptations of a bag of chips, I feel science should have instead focused on a way to make a bag that wouldn't cause me to break stealth when I try to sneak a snack.

In all seriousness, a way to obtain audio purely from video does actually sound like it would have applications in the future, and it would be interesting to see exactly what those would be.

so they have nearly found a way to record audio through anything?
great.

So. No more secrets. Never. Ever. You don't even need to be in focus of the camera, just some random object. I can see drones using this technology to record conversations from thousands of feet in the air. Cool. But also very scary.

I can also see employers using this to listen to the grapevine. Anywhere.

flaviok79:
I can also see employers using this to listen to the grapevine. Anywhere.

Maybe that's why there's always a water cooler in the break room...

They've been planning this for decades!!

More on topic, this is actually pretty neat.

How do you like your potato chips? Plain? Ruffled? BBQ? NSA?

Kiss what little privacy you had left goodbye. Who would have thought the humble potato would be our downfall?

I am now imagining the NSA confiscating millions of tons of refuse, and their analysts wading through used diapers in an effort to find chip bags.

008Zulu:
I am now imagining the NSA confiscating millions of tons of refuse, and their analysts wading through used diapers in an effort to find chip bags.

you misunderstod it, it dont record anything, but it vibrates when in a near someone speaking, and if they can se the chips, they can "hear" what people are saying in the room where the chips are.

To be fair, this isn't exactly new technology. USA and Russia used vibration scanning all the time to bug embassies during the Cold War. This is probably bit more precise/advanced, though.

I wonder... Would this make long range observation of a civilization - say in another star system - possible? I mean now not only can we see what the surface life is doing, but we can translate the vibrations we detect in the objects around that life to hear it? Everything from a predictable foot fall in foliage, to the surprise of an alien bird's cry? Interesting potential for this technology. I wonder just how much of what we might hear on world's more nearby? I think Mars has a thin atmosphere, it would be neat to see what we can hear when we don't have to land a mic bearing robot. This doesn't just work on people after all but presumably also geological and whatever other noises a planet might make.

Biggest waste of time yet.

This is even more difficult and shot-in-the-dark-ish than all of their previous ideas combined. On the other hand, I could probably scare the hell out of people by shouting into a bag "Hey, guys! Did you get all that?".

Captcha: Coffee can

Yeah, or that. They can probably hear that one too.

This kind of reminds me of the level in Splinter Cell where you eavesdrop on a conversation by aiming a laser pointer thingy at a window. Now the NSA will be able to listen to me scarfing down a bag of quavers? Monsters.

Why all the efford to record a bag of chips and not the vibration in the window itself?
Or perhaps even easier, hack into the buildings comm system, rewire the speakers (those work as a decent microphone, so there is bound to be some residual electromagnetic noise on the cables) and more things that I'm currently not thinking about, but imagination will get you far enough.

MegaGame:
you misunderstod it, it dont record anything, but it vibrates when in a near someone speaking, and if they can se the chips, they can "hear" what people are saying in the room where the chips are.

I bet technicalities like that wont stop them from trying to seize your garbage.

 

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