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Community Champion

Lasers can "talk" to digital assistants

We all know that digital assistants can be fooled into responding to people and buying things you don't want or opening doors we'd rather stay shut--but only if someone is already in your house.

 

Not any more.  Now researchers have found that they can get a laser to "talk" to your device.  They can even be outside.  How far away depends only on how big you want to make your laser.


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4 Replies
Contributor I

Re: Lasers can "talk" to digital assistants

I wonder exactly what is happening, physically.  Slight changes in pressure due to heat created by the beam?  Actual pressure of the photons on the membrane, like a solar sail?  Something more esoteric?  Sounds like it should be a pretty easy fix though, to protect the mic, and in the mean time, don't put it near a window.

Community Champion

Re: Lasers can "talk" to digital assistants

Hi All

 

This just smacks of technical countermeasures techniques, which have been well known and documented for many years and still used and you can easier purchase such devices, if you so wish.

 

This is not new, but we seem to have to remind ourselves about such things as a new era occurs, perhaps this just shows our length of tenure - it is rather like security awareness 101, just keep pouring out the message, as people simply forget these things can and do happen.

 

Computing UK also came out with a piece on the same subject too:

 

https://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/3083422/amazon-echo-google-home-hack

 

Regards

 

Caute_cautim

Community Champion

Re: Lasers can "talk" to digital assistants

> mgorman (Contributor I) posted a new reply in Industry News on 11-05-2019 07:44

> I wonder exactly what is happening, physically.  Slight changes in pressure due
> to heat created by the beam?  Actual pressure of the photons on the membrane,
> like a solar sail?  Something more esoteric?

The mikes are probably cheap piezoelectric, and possibly respond to temperature
changes. There may also be some form of the photoelectric effect.

>  Sounds like it should be a pretty
> easy fix though, to protect the mic, and in the mean time, don't put it near a
> window.

Technically relatively easy (heavier plastic around the mike opening, deeper
channels from the opening to the microphone, etc), but not necessarily cheap, so
I doubt the manufacturers will be doing much any time soon ...

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Community Champion

Re: Lasers can "talk" to digital assistants

@mgormanJust basic physics and a good understanding of quantum theory will give you sufficient ammunition.  This type of thing has been going on for years and years in different formats and has just evolved over time and technology processing.   The future is looking very interesting indeed, and challenging due to many different avenues evolving.

 

Regards

 

Caute_cautim