The Lamphone that spies on you through light bulbs

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With each passing year, the Internet and technology become more and more important in our lives, which should not necessarily be a bad thing. Unfortunately, hackers represent the downside of relying so heavily on new technologies.

These criminals of our age take advantage of every security flaw in the network to try to make a profit. We have seen cases where they have taken control of other people’s routers, mobile phones, Smart TVs and even light bulbs.

However, what would you think if we told you that they can also hack into your old light bulbs to spy on you? As unrealistic as it may sound, a group of researchers has shown that it is possible.

The Lamphone that spies on you through light bulbs

A team of experts from Ben-Gurion University (Israel) and the Weizzman Institute of Science has come up with a surprise by publishing research showing that it is possible to hack into traditional light bulbs, those that are not connected to the Internet.

According to his study, the waves we emit when we speak have a direct impact on the light waves given off by ordinary light bulbs. Using a complex algorithm and a sensor that measures the electro-optical spectrum to interpret these waves, the researchers were able to accurately reproduce a conversation that took place in a remote room thanks to the use of the lamphone.

In other words, this technology would make it possible to spy on conversations in any room where there is a light bulb. Once again, reality surpasses fiction with something that seems to be taken from the latest James Bond film.

The pathetic story of the elite CIA team that left the door open for hackers
The pathetic story of the elite CIA team that left the door open for hackers

The ‘Lamphone’

The device that scientists have used to achieve this has been called a lamphone, a device capable of optically capturing sound waves by means of a sensor that points directly at the bulb in question with the aid of a telescope (since it is a system for long-distance spying).

Technique for hacking light bulbs
Technique for hacking light bulbs

They then used voice or music detection systems, such as Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri or Shazam, to reproduce the conversation that had taken place in the room where the light bulb was located.

After putting a speech by Donald Trump in a room, these Israeli researchers managed to transcribe it from a distance of 80 meters using the Google Cloud Speech API. They were also able to detect the Beatles’ song Let It Be with the help of Shazam.

Voice waves and light bulb
Voice waves and light bulb

Despite the surprise of this study, it should be stressed that the technique fortunately has some limitations. Firstly, the tests are limited to hanging lamps, so it is not clear whether the results would be the same with other types of lamps, such as fixed lamps.

Also, it should be noted that the volume of the speech and song was higher in the tests than in the average conversation, so the technique may not be as effective in a real conversation. In view of this, one of the researchers explains that they used a cheap electro-optical sensor, so it might be worthwhile using a higher quality one.

Now a light bulb can spy on you
Now a light bulb can spy on you

Finally, let’s not forget that this is a very easy spying technique to prevent, because it would be enough to cover the light bulbs or to pull the curtain so that potential spies could not analyze the waves. Even so, we have to admit that it is a tremendously ingenious system that does not require large investments.

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