How to detect hidden spy cameras

We are increasingly concerned about our privacy. One of those that worries us the most is the trace that we leave when browsing the Internet, but it is not the only one. In our homes we sometimes have IP cameras to monitor minors, pets or simply to check that everything is fine. However, in some places, taking advantage of the fact that the cameras are getting smaller and cheaper, some are placed to spy on us. In this case they are very difficult to detect and even illegal to have put them. In this article we are going to talk about how to detect hidden spy cameras with a mobile phone thanks to an app.

Two universities develop an app

In a collaboration between researchers at Yonsei University in South Korea and the National University of Singapore, they have developed a mobile application that uses the TOF sensor in smartphone cameras to find tiny spy cameras hidden in everyday objects. In case you don’t know, the TOF sensor in today’s smartphones emits infrared light beams that are used to measure depth.

This app that it has developed to carry out this task is more successful in detecting hidden spy cameras than the latest generation detectors, and also than the human eye or brain.

How spy camera detection works

Small spy cameras hidden in sensitive places can be easily hidden in hotel rooms, bathrooms and are becoming a serious problem. To this must be added that they can be bought online very cheaply, and also, they are difficult to detect with the naked eye, especially in rooms with many objects. As a result of the collaboration of researchers from the two mentioned Asian universities, it has resulted in the creation of the LAPD (Laser Assisted Photo Detection) application. This can work on any smartphone that has a TOF sensor. To name a compatible model, they would be those of the Galaxy S20 range.

The process of detecting hidden spy cameras would be done as follows, for which we will base ourselves on the image above. It all starts with the scanning process in which the TOF sensor emits laser pulses and receives reflected light from the object, such as the water bottle, and its surroundings. According to the developers, the hidden camera embedded in the object reflects incoming laser pulses with a higher intensity than its surroundings due to an effect called retroreflection from the lens sensor. The LAPD app then processes these saturated areas to automatically identify hidden spy cameras and their location. Then it finally shows them on the user’s smartphone screen.

On the other hand, to eliminate false positives due to the different reflectivity of various objects, the developers used augmented reality to guide the user to get closer to, or away from, the object in question.

What can we expect from the LADP app

This solution is really promising but has a problem for its easy and widespread use. The downside is that most cameras do not have a TOF sensor. However, it is expected that in the next 5 years they will be very common. One thing to keep in mind is that to detect hidden spy cameras users are required to scan only one object at a time, for this we will take about a minute to do so.

On the other hand, the precision of the solution could be further increased by using the mobile flashlight and RGB cameras. In addition, its use can be complemented with WiFi-based solutions to identify the locations where hidden spy cameras are located. Finally, the researchers intend to open this open source application so that other users can help improve it. It would then be released to the public so that anyone with a TOF sensor camera can find hidden spy cameras.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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