Our phones these days come packed with a ton of sensors, more so than the feature phones from back in the day. These days our phones can track all kinds of information which can lead to the creation of some pretty amazing and useful apps, as well as all kinds of fun games and whatnot.
Unfortunately it seems that there are two sides to every coin and according to researchers at the University of Michigan, they have discovered that sound waves could actually be used to trick and hijack the sensors in our phones. Basically what they have done is that when sound is played at a specific frequency, it will affect the spring structures into motions sensors such as the accelerometer, which in turn tricks it into thinking that the phone is moving.
So far what the researchers have managed to do with this “hack” is steer an app-controlled car, get a phone to spell out the word “Walnut” on a graph, and trick a Fitbit tracker to record steps that were never taken. Admittedly none of these “hacks” sound particularly scary, but the researchers have theorized that it could potentially be used to hijack drones or vehicles that might rely on such sensors for navigation.
Thankfully the fix is said to be relatively low-cost and the researchers have since reached out to manufacturers, such as Fitbit and Samsung, to inform them to the issue. Whether or not these companies take any action remains to be seen.