Patent of the Week: A Wearable Microphone Jammer to Stop Devices from Eavesdropping

Patent of the Week

University of Chicago researchers have created a wearable device that disables microphones from listening in to surrounding conversation.

According to the researchers, including Pedro Lopes, an assistant professor in the department of computer science and head of the Human Computer Integration Lab, the device “provides stronger privacy in a world in which most devices are constantly eavesdropping on our conversations.”

The prototype device features ultrasonic transducers, which jam nearby microphones, but often exhibit blind spots. To solve for this, the researchers designed the jammer as a bracelet to leverage the user’s natural hand gesturing. This movement, including walking, “can blur jamming blind spots and increase jamming coverage,” the researchers explained in a paper.

“Moreover, current jammers are also directional, requiring users to point the jammer to a microphone; instead, our wearable bracelet is built in a ring-layout that allows it to jam in multiple directions,” they added. “This is beneficial in that it allows our jammer to protect against microphones hidden out of sight.”

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// Patent of the Week is a weekly column highlighting research and inventions from University of Chicago faculty.


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