Robot Vacuums Can Be Hacked to Eavesdrop on Your Family


No, you're not paranoid, the vacuum cleaner may be listening to your conversations.

Robot vacuum cleaners can be hacked and remotely programmed to record sound waves, even though the vacuum doesn't even have a microphone.

The University of Maryland research team found that the positioning lasers used by the vacuums can be hacked and converted into sound waves.

In a news release from the university, Professor Nirupam Roy said "We have shown that even though these devices don’t have microphones, we can repurpose the systems they use for navigation to spy on conversations and potentially reveal private information.”

The researchers passed the signals they received through deep learning algorithms that were trained to either match human voices or to identify musical sequences from television shows. Their computer system, which they call LidarPhone, identified and matched spoken numbers with 90% accuracy. It also identified television shows from a minute’s worth of recording with more than 90% accuracy.

Many other devices could be open to similar attacks such as smartphone infrared sensors used for face recognition or passive infrared sensors used for motion detection.

Image courtesy Getty