Researchers have found that accelerometers, the motion-sensing chips used in smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices, as well as automobiles and medical equipment, can be hacked using sound waves, The New York Times reports.
In a new study, computer security scientists from the University of Michigan and University of South Carolina demonstrated that accelerometers could be manipulated using a “malicious music file.”
In the ultimate betrayal, music has suddenly turned into the bad guy with news that ‘malicious’ sound waves can hack an accelerometer.
They were able to add steps to a FitBit counter and control a toy car, exposing the possibility for much more dangerous meddling in devices as varied as self-driving cars and pacemakers.
One of the authors of the study, Kevin Fu, a University of Michigan associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, told the Times, “It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words. You can think of it as a musical virus.”
The researchers tested 20 accelerometer chips from five different manufacturers, and found that they were able to hack 75% of the chips, according to the Times.
Find a more in-depth explanation of the hack below.
While you’re here, check out our piece on the origins of the Mario theme song.