Engineers have created an app that helps locate hidden cameras using the sensors built into the smartphone. The authors of the development assure that their system is 90% efficient.

Cybersecurity academic researchers from Singapore and South Korea have repurposed Time of Flight (ToF) sensors in smartphone cameras. As a result, they created an application that detects hidden cameras.

In a talk the researchers presented at the Embedded Networked Sensor Systems conference, they detailed the new Laser-Assisted Photography Detection (LAPD) system. Its peculiarity is that it uses ToF sensors in conventional smartphones. Scientists have also used computer vision and machine learning techniques. They tested the LAPD and found that hidden cameras were found to be 88.9% efficient.

The Time of Flight camera uses the speed of light to measure distance. It measures the flight time of the reflected light beam – the amount of time it takes to get back to the sensor. Based on the data, it is calculated by the speed of light particles to build the so-called far image of the scene. By accurately measuring the key focus points, the camera hardware and software can produce clearer shots. Time-Flight Technology Time-of-Flight (ToF) cameras consist of a sensor that uses a tiny laser to emit infrared light. This light bounces off anything in front of the camera and returns back to the sensor.

This measures the length of time during which the light is reflected, and which is translated into information about the distance. In fact, time-of-flight cameras actually measure the time it takes for light to travel from the camera to the user or environment and be reflected off the sensor.

ToF sensors have recently started appearing in smartphones such as the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 from Apple and the Galaxy S20 + from Samsung. The Register found an article by Shriram Sami, Bungy San, and Sean Rui Xiang Tan of the National University of Singapore and Jun Han of Yonsei University discussing a new strategy for using ToF to detect hidden spy cameras in hotel rooms and toilets.

The current generation of devices, which are designed to detect tiny spy cameras, are characterized by “low detection rates,” the scientists say. What’s more, suggestions for detecting spy cameras using their wireless traffic do not make it clear where they are.

Covert surveillance using nearly invisible hidden cameras has become a global problem, the researchers said.

“Tiny covert spy cameras in hotel rooms and toilets are an increasing threat to privacy around the world,” the scientists stress.