Spying Robot Vacuums Really Suck

LidarPhone exploits the LiDAR sensor in robotic vacuums to eavesdrop on your private conversations.

Just when you thought you had all your bases covered for privacy, it turns out that even your seemingly innocent robot vacuum may be spying on you. And all this time you thought it was only collecting dirt from the floor.

A team in Singapore took advantage of the LiDAR sensor typically found onboard robotic vacuums for navigation purposes, and repurposed it to capture sound with an exploit that they call LidarPhone. Laser microphones, in which laser beams reflected off of vibrating objects are converted into audio, are not a new idea. However, laser microphones require sophisticated setups and fine-tuning that is not possible with a stock vacuum cleaner. Getting a vacuum to work as a laser microphone took some clever thinking.

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