A student of Computer Science from the University of Washington has reportedly discovered that the Nike+iPod Sports Kit can be used as a tracking device.
Apparently, owning a Nike+iPod Sports kit is no longer reason to get excited about...
A student of Computer Science from the University of Washington, T Scott Saponas, has reportedly discovered that this very same kit can be used as a tracking device.
In other words, the Nike+iPod makes a user vulnerable to potential surveillance, thereby generating privacy and personal security problems if the transmissions of the in-shoe sensor are captured.
The in-shoe sensor is designed to transmit a unique code, identifying the shoe, and in turn - its user and his/her location. Normally, the user may not realize that the sensor is on, and that it should be switched off. This helps in tracking the user's location from as far as 60 feet away.
Saponas and his team-mates carried out research to prove this. They actually set up a monitoring system for demonstration. The system monitored the signals, identified the user by a unique code, and uploaded the data to a server that used Google Maps to pinpoint and track the location in real-time.
The student team claims it took them just a couple of minutes to figure the decoding of a receiver's unique tag, and a couple of hours to write the code that interprets the sensor data.
A more sophisticated system uses a matchbox-sized computer with wireless Internet access to record multiple users' whereabouts, send the information to a central server, plot the locations using GoogleMaps, and alert the person doing the tracking with an e-mail or text message.
It is being said that the Nike+iPod designers could have used simple cryptographic techniques to avoid or lessen these potential problems.
Meanwhile, users of the Nike+iPod Sport Kit have been advised to turn off their gadget when not exercising, to eliminate the risk of getting tracked through the signals emitted.
The Nike+iPod Sport Kit worth $29 (Rs 1,305 approx) is available in two parts; a chip in the size of a dinner mint that acts as a pedometer, which slips into the shoe, and the other piece a receiver that fits into an iPod Nano, and stores information coming from the person's foot.