The Michigan Engineer News Center

Probing tech’s soft underbelly

Tricks of the trade.| Short Read

Written by Claudia Capos

Things are not always what they appear to be in Kevin Fu’s laboratory at U-M’s College of Engineering.

On any given day, research investigators may use an antenna to fool the lab’s temperature sensor into giving a false reading of below absolute zero ― a temperature so low it does not exist in the natural world. They also have utilized a laser light beam to inject false voice commands in a voice-controlled assistant from a distance of 300 feet, roughly the length of a football field.

While these scientific shenanigans seem more like hackers’ pranks, they are meant to illustrate an important point: The electronic devices on which we depend are not as secure and trustworthy as we thought.

“It’s possible to use everyday physics ― such as radio waves, ultrasonic beams, sound waves, lasers, and even laser pointers and flashlights ― to trick these devices into seeing false realities,” says Fu, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

This article was original published in Michigan Today. Read the full article.

  • Kevin Fu

    Kevin Fu

    Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

The outside of the Ford Robotics building

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