Spying Through Sound Vibrations

Gone are the days of old school spying when gangsters only had to take a walk and cover their mouths to make sure no one could catch what they were talking about. Criminals got smarter, and so law enforcement had to wisen up to keep pace with them. This is great when we consider that it helps keep malicious elements off the streets. But the problem is that it’s not just criminals that get spied on. Today we are all at a place where we are targets of various types of spying that threatens our privacy. The most recent development is spying through sound vibrations.

Reconstructing Speech is the New Spy Tactic

Using sound vibrations to spy on people is almost something that one would expect to come out of a SciFi movie. It consists of taking visual vibration readings off of surrounding objects and translating them into speech. Yes, you read it right, we are not talking about actual sound recordings but just visual representations of sound waves that are bouncing off very ordinary objects that are lying around. Is it really possible to reconstruct clearly decipherable phrases from these mere reflections? As far as we have been able to determine, this technology is not only possible but actually quite frighteningly advanced. Equipment has been developed over the years to record sound waves and transcribe them back into the original conversations that generated them.

This sound vibration technology is so advanced in fact that any object or material that can reflect sound waves without eating them up or changing their quality can be used. Top VPN providerExpressVPN used a bag of potato chips to illustrate this, and how ridiculous yet real the technology is. And it’s not just conductive materials or solids that are viable – a plant can produce enough of a reaction to accurately reconstruct speech.

So how exactly does this work? Well, we can speak because our voice boxes create vibrations that resonate at various frequencies as we control the air that is passed through them. These vibrations carry farther than our vocal chords, and end up reverberating in the objects around us. A voice is after all just another sound, and we know how sound carries and vibrates and resonates through walls and doors and the like. So this speech recognition technology that uses sound vibrations simply takes advantage of this natural quality of sound. The technology centers on a system that was developed to pick up on the minute differences in frequency that surrounding objects echo when a person produces the sounds of speech.

These tiny differences in vibration frequencies are recorded by sensitive high speed cameras that can capture the smallest changes in movement. These special cameras that are made to record up to 6000 frames per minute work best for this speech recognition activity, but even a smartphone video that runs at only up to 60 frames per minute can be used to effectively transcribe speech vibrations. The recordings made are processed by software with a programmed algorithm that analyzes the variations, sorts and graphs them, presenting them as digital sound waves. This digital representation can then be translated to actual speech.

The sound vibration technology that could at this very moment be in use by spies all over the world is ascribed to a group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These geniuses are always coming up with new and awesome applications for the most basic of scientific phenomenon. But we do not know if they were aware or cared that it would have such startling applications for the intelligence community, and such dangerous implications for the average Joe’s privacy.

Privacy Alert!

Sound vibration technology has serious privacy implications. We do not know if and when the software that has been developed along with it will be used by the intelligence community or sold to private spy agencies. When this happens, it means that any conversation happening anywhere can potentially be recorded with bare video feed and without the aid of microphones. When we think about how many video cameras are strewn around the country – in stores, on the streets, in homes – the implications are astounding. Any person lounging at a café, driving to work, cooking dinner at home, or shopping for a gift can be spied on as long as they are talking, which happens a lot in this age of cellular phones, WiFi hotspots and voice chat.

What we can predict for sure is that the potential for this technology is too tempting for the spies to ignore. They know that this technology can make up for all that they have lost since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on their mass spying operations. We know that they must be thinking of just how much data they will be able to get their hands on if they can bring this technology into play. Spies are well known for leveraging just about anything that they can get a hold of – it is after all historically the mark of the intelligence expert. Perhaps the scariest part of this is that not even soundproofing can stand in the way of this type of spying since no sounds are needed. As long as there is an object that can conduct sound near the speaker, the spies can figure out what is being said.

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