The researchers used an app they built on a Samsung Gear Live smart watch sand said they could guess what a user was typing because of data “leaks” originating from the motion sensors built into the device.
They believe that the project shows that smart watches have security implications because an app that purported to be, for example, a pedometer could harvest data from emails, search queries and documents.
Romit Roy Choudhury, associate professor of electrical and computing engineering at Illinois said these devices give invaluable insightsinto human health but “also make way for deeper violation into human privacy”.
The app Illinois University made uses an accelerometer and gyroscope to track micro motion of keystrokes. The scientists then ran the data they’d harvested using a keystroke detection module which can measure the net 2D displacement of the watch as a person types.
One way to prevent this type of security breach is for designers to reduce the sample rate of sensors from the current 200 Hertz to below 15, making it very difficult to track the movement of the wrists.