Researchers at Stanford University have discovered a way to turn gyroscopes in Android phones into microphones through the installation of a simple app. While the results of this research indicate minimal threats to Androids as a whole, they could be signs of problems in the future.
Smartphone gyroscopes work through the use of vibrating pressure plates. This allows the gyros to pick up air vibrations from sounds. Many Android devices can pick up frequencies from 80 to 250 hertz, which is enough to hear a human voice. The gyroscopes in iPhones are not capable of detecting that.
Researchers at this time are only able to pick up sporadic sounds, but they believe voice recognition experts could turn this technology into something useful for eavesdropping. The plan is to stop that before it becomes a problem.
A representative from Google said, “This early, academic work should allow us to provide defenses before there is any likelihood of real exploitation.” The company behind Android is already looking into ways of correcting the issue so that it will not be a threat to smartphones in the future.