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Anti-surveillance – App promises to detect spy cameras

Anti-surveillance – App promises to detect spy cameras
Anti-surveillance – App promises to detect spy cameras

Posted24 November 2021, 22:21

Asian researchers have developed a smartphone solution that protects against hidden surveillance cameras.

The app gets a high detection rate.


Mini spy cameras have to reckon with a new enemy. A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore and Yonsei University in South Korea have developed a tool that can detect hidden surveillance cameras that may have been placed by a third party in a room. All it takes is downloading their app to a smartphone.

Called LAPD (for Laser-Assisted Photography Detection), it takes advantage of the Time-of-Flight sensor (ToF, time-of-flight sensor) that the photo module of some recent mobile phones carries. This is generally used to calculate the distance between the camera and the objects photographed, via the emission-reception of a light source, to create a bokeh effect (background blur), but also to determine the depth of field for augmented reality apps.

Retroreflection detection

The LAPD app uses it to find cameras hidden in objects. In practice, when the rays emitted by the ToF sensor hit a spy lens, an effect called sensor lens retroreflection occurs. In this case, the light energy is returned directly to the source with an intensity that generates a “saturation” of certain regions of the ToF sensor. The tool “treats these saturated areas to automatically identify the hidden camera and its location and displays it on the user’s smartphone screen,” the researchers explain.

In a test involving 379 participants in real conditions, the application achieved a detection rate of hidden surveillance cameras of 88.9%, compared to 62% with an infrared detection device and 46% to the naked eye, explains the study.

The app is currently not available to the general public, but the researchers said they will make its source code available soon.



Antisurveillance App promises detect spy cameras

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