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Eerie Drone Tech Uses Wi-Fi To Link To Home Devices And ‘See Through Walls’


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drone-see-through-walls-1667895750.jpg Photo 101954994 © Colicaranica | Dreamstime.com


Technology has brought us wild and wonderful inventions that have certainly made our lives easier. But with everything, there is a good side and a bad side, and this might be one of the creations that might have been best left untouched. Scientists at the University of Waterloo in Ontario have brandished a US$20 drone and made it way more capable than just being able to fly around and catch aerial shots: It can also “see through walls.” No, it doesn’t have X-ray vision. Instead, it uses a Wi-Fi connection to tap into any device—including phones, laptops, and tablets—in another room to pinpoint its exact location. The aptly named ‘Wi-Peep’ comprises a low-cost ESP8266 Wi-Fi microchip, an ESP32 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth microcontroller, a voltage regulator, and a microSD module.  The circuit board is attached to a relatively cheap drone and sets out on its spying duties.  Wi-Peep takes advantage of a fault in internet connections and devices known as IEEE 802.11. This means that any gadget hooked up to a wireless connection will always respond to any appliance trying to contact it.


The drone utilizes Time-of-Flight (ToF) signals to ping devices in a separate room, and the feedback it receives is then used to estimate the distance between it and the target. The researchers have dubbed this infiltration as “polite Wi-Fi.”  And to determine what exact gadget it is checking out, the system uses a smart device’s unique identifier, known as the media access control (MAC) address, to do so. The project was first showcased at the 28th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, where the researchers identified how this sort of technology could be used in a variety of nefarious ways. For example, they highlighted usage in security banks in which criminals could locate where a security guard was standing by tapping into their phone. Home invaders could do the same to innocent families.  ExtremeTech points out other uses, such as police officers and insurance companies using Wi-Peep to spy on people for investigations without their consent. Wi-Peep was not designed to show off the team’s prowess in understanding computer science and the Internet of Things. Instead, it was meant to bring attention to the need for proper privacy protocols that need to be put in place to prevent such technology from falling into the hands of the wrong people.   [via Gizmodo and ExtremeTech, Photo 101954994 © Colicaranica | Dreamstime.com]

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