Hackers might have a pulsating new way to spy on you through your phone and fitbit

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Tips For Keeping Your Private Information Safe From Hackers

Hackers may be pickin' up good vibrations from your phone. All the better to surveil you with, my dear.

Researchers at the Electrical and Computer Engineering school of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discovered that the vibration motor in your devices can operate like a microphone, according to the researchers' paper. That means, if a hacker rewires your vibration motor (which TechCrunch reported could be executed "in a minute or two"), they can listen to what you're saying.

The system, VibraPhone, works on any device with a vibration motor — which includes our phones and wearables.

And it works damn well. Humans were able to understand the recorded words via the vibration motor with greater than 80% average accuracy, according to the researchers' paper. The researchers note that the "fidelity to which this is possible has been somewhat unexpected." More great news for malware eavesdroppers: This system doesn't require any machine learning or pattern recognition to extract the decoded sounds.

RELATED: Exercising with Fitbits:

8 PHOTOS
Fitbit, exercising with Fitbits
See Gallery
Hackers might have a pulsating new way to spy on you through your phone and fitbit
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Fitbit Alta products on display as celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak and stylist to the stars Anita Patrickson help introduce Fitbit Alta, a slim, sleek fitness wristband that can be personalized to fit your style, on February 2, 2016 in New York City. Fitbit Alta is designed with a satin finish, stainless steel body and features a line of interchangeable bands in multiple popular colors and premium materials. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for FitBit)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak (pictured) and stylist to the stars Anita Patrickson help introduce Fitbit Alta, a slim, sleek fitness wristband that can be personalized to fit your style on February 2, 2016 in New York City. Fitbit Alta is designed with a satin finish, stainless steel body and features a line of interchangeable bands in multiple popular colors and premium materials. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for FitBit)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak and stylist to the stars Anita Patrickson help introduce Fitbit Alta, a slim, sleek fitness wristband that can be personalized to fit your style on February 2, 2016 in New York City. Fitbit Alta is designed with a satin finish, stainless steel body and features a line of interchangeable bands in multiple popular colors and premium materials. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for FitBit)
The Fitbit Inc. Blaze fitness tracker is unveiled during an event at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. CES is expected to bring a range of announcements from major names in tech showcasing new developments in virtual reality, self-driving cars, drones, wearables, and the Internet of Things. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Volunteers take part in Fitbit introduces Fitbit Local, free all-levels workouts led by talented community trainers. The launch in San Diego included a morning bootcamp and yoga session led by Sheri Matthews and Mike Sherbakov. Get Together. Sweat Together. (Photo by Robert Benson/Getty Images for Fitbit)
SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Volunteers take part in Fitbit introduces Fitbit Local, free all-levels workouts led by talented community trainers. The launch in San Diego included a morning bootcamp and yoga session led by Sheri Matthews and Mike Sherbakov. Get Together. Sweat Together. (Photo by Robert Benson/Getty Images for Fitbit)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Professional Boxer Miguel Cotto trains with Fitbit Surge in preparation for his fight on Nov. 21 with Canelo Alvarez at Wild Card Boxing Club on November 11, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images for fitbit)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

It does have a weakness though: high frequencies. So if you're squeaking like a chipmunk, chances are the system won't be able to pick up your sounds. This also includes some consonants and vowels like "i" and "e" which have frequencies high enough to be suppressed by the system, according to the paper.

But it's not all wiretapping and espionage — the VibraPhone can be used for good. The researchers also see the system as a way to recover speech from the vibrations of vocal cords, facial bones or skull, which can help to build better assistive technology for individuals with speech impairment, TechCrunch reported.

And this isn't the first time researchers have translated sweet vibrations into words — researchers at MIT, Microsoft and Adobe previously created an algorithm that extracted audio from a vibrating potato-chip bag.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

A Holocaust Survivor Found These Old Photographs - And Solved A Decades-Old Mystery A Holocaust Survivor Found These Old Photographs - And Solved A Decades-Old Mystery
Man Finds 5 Abandoned 'Puppies' In His Garden - Then Quickly Realizes He Made A Big Man Finds 5 Abandoned 'Puppies' In His Garden - Then Quickly Realizes He Made A Big
Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts