Hackers can control your smartphone using sound waves from a $5 speaker

hackers sound waves accelerometer speaker

Hackers are developing new and improved ways to take control of your devices. The latest? Apparently, it’s by using sound waves.

Researchers have come up with a new way to hack all kinds of different devices and it’s a pretty complex system that basically imitates micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers — which is a chip in your device that lets phones and trackers know when they are moving and how quickly.

You would expect the system to use some pretty impressive tech, right? On the contrary, the hackers simply used a $5 speaker, which was able to blast as many as 20 different accelerometers from five different manufacturers with sound waves. Those frequencies were able to trick the sensors in devices like smartphones into doing a range of different things. Accelerometers are basically sensors suspended on a few different springs, and when the sound waves reach the chip, it moves — just like what would happen when you move.

“It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words,” Kevin Fu, author of the research paper and professor at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times. “You can think of it as a musical virus.”

So what exactly is the result of the hack? Well, the team was basically able to trick a phone into doing whatever they wanted. Specifically, the team was able to tell the phone to show a video or even control an app that controls a remote control car — all using only sound waves. That’s just the beginning, though — the team notes that if you had an app to start your car using the accelerometer when you shake your phone, you could potentially hack the phone to start the car.

It’s important to note that for now, this is only a proof of concept and it’s unlikely we’ll see hackers walking around with tiny speakers to control your phone. The fact is, however, that hacking methods are getting increasingly creative and complex.

Check out the video below to see the system in action.