Wearable Microphone Jamming

Thu, June 4, 2020 6PM


Welcome to the inaugural ChicagoCHI meeting, which unfortunately are forced to organize online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be using Zoom for the online meeting, with the meeting url being sent to all registered attendees a day before the meeting (ie. Wednesday, June 3), so please make sure you register here.


We engineered a wearable microphone jammer that is capable of disabling microphones in its user’s surroundings, including hidden microphones. Our device is based on a recent exploit that leverages the fact that when exposed to ultrasonic noise, commodity microphones will leak the noise into the audible range. 

Unfortunately, ultrasonic jammers are built from multiple transducers and therefore exhibit blind spots, i.e., locations in which transducers destructively interfere and where a microphone cannot be jammed. To solve this, our device exploits a synergy between ultrasonic jamming and the naturally occurring movements that users induce on their wearable devices (e.g., bracelets) as they gesture or walk. We demonstrate that these movements can blur jamming blind spots and increase jamming coverage. 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. This is beneficial in that it allows our jammer to protect against microphones hidden out of sight.

We evaluated our jammer in a series of experiments and found that: (1) it jams in all directions, e.g., our device jams over 87% of the words uttered around it in any direction, while existing devices jam only 30% when not pointed directly at the microphone; (2) it exhibits significantly less blind spots; and, (3) our device induced a feeling of privacy to participants of our user study. We believe our wearable provides stronger privacy in a world in which most devices are constantly eavesdropping on our conversations. 



Third-year Ph.D. student at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, working at the SAND Lab, co-advised by Prof. Ben Y. Zhao and Prof. Heather Zheng. Yuxin is broadly interested in security & privacy, human computer interaction and deep learning. Recently, His research is focused on two directions: exploring systems/hardware integrated with human body to solve security and privacy problems, and investigating security and privacy problems caused by human body.


PhD student in Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Working at the Human Computer Integration Lab led by Prof. Pedro Lopes, Shan-Yuan develops novel wearable devices to expand the interactions between humans and the computer. His previous work includes providing various methods of haptic feedback for virtual reality.​


6:00 – 6:20 PM     ACM, ChicagoCHI and Speaker Introductions

6:20 – 7:00 PM      Talk

7:00 – 7:10 PM      Q&A

Admission is free, but don’t forget to register so you can get the Zoom invite.

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