If you’re in the market for something to obfuscate your nefarious nocturnal activities, rejoice — this adversarial infrared hoodie may be just what you’re looking for.
Not that we condone illegal activities, of course, and neither does artist [Mac Pierce], who created “The Camera-Shy Hoodie.” His purpose seems to be exploring the nature of the surveillance state, or rather to perplex it in the name of anonymity. The idea is simple — equip a standard hoodie with a ring of super-bright IR LEDs, and control them with an RP2040.
We’ve seen blinding hoodies before, but here the LEDs strobe on and off in one of three different patterns, all of which are timed to confound the autoexposure mechanism in just about any surveillance camera by not giving it time to adjust to the rapidly and drastically changing light level. The result is near-total obfuscation of the wearer’s facial features, at least when the camera is in night-vision mode. Check out the results in the video below.
There are some nice touches to [Mac]’s approach, like aluminum PCBs for the LEDs and the use of soldered-on fabric snaps to attach them to the inside of the hoodie, making them easy to remove for laundering. With the LEDs peeking through holes in the fabric, the hoodie looks pretty run-of-the-mill — until, of course, night falls and the USB battery bank in the hoodie’s pocket powers up the light show.
Granted, this won’t exactly help you avoid detection — the big ball of light around your head will be instantly seen by even the most casual observer. But at least it makes it easier to keep your face to yourself. And it won’t help much in daylight — for that, you might want something a little more like this passive adversarial ugly sweater.
Continue reading “Adversarial IR Hoodie Lets You Own The Night In Anonymity” →
In case you thought that cameras, LiDAR, infrared sensors, and the like weren’t enough for Big Brother to track you, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have found a way to track human movements via WiFi. [PDF via VPNoverview]
The process uses the signals from WiFi routers for an inexpensive way to determine human poses that isn’t hampered by lack of illumination or object occlusion. The system produces UV coordinates of human bodies by analyzing signal strength and phase data to generate a 2D feature map and then feeding that through a modified DensePose-RCNN architecture which corresponds to 3D human poses. The system does have trouble with unusual poses that are not in the training set or if there are more than three subjects in the detection area.
While there are probably applications in Kinect-esque VR Halo games, this will probably go straight into the toolbox of three letter agencies and advertising-fueled tech companies. The authors claim this to use “privacy-preserving algorithms for human sensing,” but only time will tell if they’re correct.
If you’re interested in other creepy surveillance tools, checkout the Heat-Sensing Crotch Monitor or this Dystopian Peep Show.
Surveillance has become a ubiquitous part of modern life. Public spaces are dotted with CCTV cameras inside and out. Recent years have seen the technology spread to the suburbs with porch cameras spreading the eye of big tech and law enforcement ever further.
Outside of mere cameras, companies are rushing to develop all manner of new devices to surveil individuals, too. One such device intended to track students quickly drew the ire of scholars at Northeastern University, and the cohort fought back.
Continue reading “Students Rebel Against Heat-Sensing Crotch Monitor Surveillance Devices” →
After taking mental note of the number of surveillance cameras pointed at him while standing in line at the local Home Depot, [Mac Pierce] was inspired to create A Scanner Darkly. The art installation uses beams of light projected by mock security cameras to create a dot-matrix character display on the opposing wall, which slowly blinks out US surveillance laws and regulations.
[Mac] has put together an extensive behind the scenes look at how he created A Scanner Darkly, which among other things covers the incredible time and effort that went into producing the fifteen identical cameras used to project the 3×5 grid. Early on he decided on 3D printing each one, as it would give him complete control over the final result. But given their considerable size, it ended up taking 230 hours and 12 kilograms of PLA filament to print out all the parts. It took a further 55 hours to sand and paint the camera housings, to make sure they didn’t actually look like they’d been 3D printed.
Internally, each camera has an off-the-shelf LED flashlight that’s had its power button rigged up to an ESP8266. Once they’ve been manually pointed to the appropriate spot on the wall, [Mac] can turn each camera’s spotlight on and off over WiFi. Rather than rely on the gallery’s infrastructure, all of the cameras connect to the ESP32 M5Stack that serves as the central controller via ESP-Now.
From there, it was just a matter of writing some code that would load a text document from the SD card, convert the current character into a 3×5 array, and then command the appropriate cameras to turn their lights on or off. [Mac] has not only provided the STL files for the 3D printed camera, but the client and server Arduino code to control the lights. Combined with his excellent documentation, this makes A Scanner Darkly something of a viral art piece; as anyone with the time and appropriate tools can either duplicate the installation or use it as a base for something new.
While some will no doubt argue that [Mac] could have completed this project far faster had he just modified some commercial dummy cameras, it’s important to remember that as an artist, he had a very specific look in mind for A Scanner Darkly. This project is a perfect example of how a creator’s passion can take an idea to new heights, and we think the end result proves it’s worth the time and sweat to put in the extra effort.
Continue reading “Building An Army Of Faux Cameras In The Name Of Art” →
The modern consumer is not overly concerned with their phone conversations being monitored. For one thing, Google and Amazon have done a tremendous job of conditioning them to believe that electronic gadgets listening to their every word isn’t just acceptable, but a near necessity in the 21st century. After all, if there was a better way to turn on the kitchen light than having a recording of your voice uploaded to Amazon so they can run it through their speech analysis software, somebody would have surely thought of it by now.
But perhaps more importantly, there’s a general understanding that the nature of telephony has changed to the point that few outside of three letter agencies can realistically intercept a phone call. Sure we’ve seen the occasional spoofed GSM network pop up at hacker cons, and there’s a troubling number of StingRays floating around out there, but it’s still a far cry from how things were back when folks still used phones that plugged into the wall. In those days, the neighborhood creep needed little more than a pair of wire strippers to listen in on your every word.
Which is precisely why products like the TA-1356 Tap Trapper were made. It was advertised as being able to scan your home’s phone line to alert you when somebody else might be listening in, whether it was a tape recorder spliced in on the pole or somebody in another room lifting the handset. You just had to clip it onto the phone distribution panel and feed it a fresh battery once and awhile.
If the red light came on, you’d know something had changed since the Tap Trapper was installed and calibrated. But how did this futuristic defender of communications privacy work? Let’s open it up and take a look.
Continue reading “Teardown: Tap Trapper” →
Getting by without falling under the gaze of surveillance cameras doesn’t seem possible nowadays – from malls to street corners, it’s getting more common for organizations to use surveillance cameras to keep patrons in check. While the freedom of assembly is considered a basic human right in documents such as the US Condition and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is not a right that is respected everywhere in the world. Often times, governments enforcing order will identify individuals using image recognition programs, preventing them from assembling or demonstrating against their government.
Freedom Shield built by engineer [Nick Bild] is an attempt at breaking away from the status quo and giving people a choice on whether they want to be seen or not. The spectrum of radiation visible to humans maxes out around 740nm, allowing the IR waves to remain undetected by normal observers.
The project uses 940nm infrared (IR) LEDs embedded in clothes to overwhelm photo diodes in IR-sensitive cameras used for surveillance. Since the wavelength of the lights are not visible to humans, they don’t obstruct normal behavior, making it an ideal way to hide in plain sight. Of course, using SMD LEDs rather than the larger sizes would also help with making the lights even less visible to the naked eye.
The result doesn’t perfectly obscure your face from cameras, but for a proof-of-concept it’s certainly a example of how to avoid being tracked.
Continue reading “Using IR LEDs To Hide In Plain Sight” →
It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear there are tens of thousands of web-connected cameras all over the world that are set to take the default credentials. Actually, there are probably more than that out there, but we can assure you that at least 70,000 or so are only a click away. With this project, [carolinebuttet] proves that it’s quite possible to make art from our rickety, ridiculous surveillance state — and it begins with a peephole perspective.
The peephole in your own front door grants you the inalienable right to police your porch, stoop, or patch of carpet in the apartment building’s hallway while going mostly undetected. In Virtual Peephole, the peephole becomes a voyeuristic virtual view of various corners of the world.
Slide aside the cover, and an LDR connected to an Arduino Micro detects the change in light level. This change makes the Micro send a key press to a Raspberry Pi, which fetches a new camera at random and displays it on a screen inside the box. You can peep a brief demo after the break, followed by a couple of short build/walk-through videos.
If you’re a peephole people watcher, put a camera in there and watch from anywhere.
Continue reading “Insecure Surveillance Cameras Provide Dystopian Peep Show” →