Bluetooth Tracking

morning rush hour

Research from Purdue University shows that Bluetooth would be a very good way to track travel time. Bluetooth devices give off unique IDs which could be used to measure speed and movement of pedestrians and vehicles.

But why stop there? Wouldn’t it be possible to track people via their Bluetooth signal, if you knew one of their device IDs? Anyway, here’s the abstract (thanks, Roland.)

Travel time is one of the most intuitive and widely understood performance measures. However, it is also one of the most difficult performance measures to accurately estimate. Toll tag tracking has demonstrated the utility of tracking electronic fingerprints to estimate link travel time. However, these devices have a small penetration outside of areas served by toll facilities, and the proprietary tag reading equipment is not widely available. This paper reports on tracking of a wide variety of consumer electronics that already contain unique digital fingerprints.

Method uses ‘Bluetooth’ to track travel time for vehicles, pedestrians

More On Fingerprint Readers

This week’s WSJ.com/AWSJ column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about biometric fingerprint readers. Microsoft’s new offering seems to have reinjected some vigour into an otherwise obscure corner of the market.

As I say in the column, I’m not convinced that fingerprint scanners are the way to go, not least because of tested methods of fooling them, not least with Gummi Bears.

Anyway, beyond the products reviewed in the column, I’ve found a couple more:

  • The USB Fingerprint Reader from Taiwan’s Billionton, which seems to do what the others do, at around the same price (I saw on in Singapore’s Sim Lim Square for S$98, or about $60);
  • The Targus DEFCON Authenticator which includes OmniPass software, the same interface that is used by the APC model mentioned in the column. This I saw selling for about S$80, or about $50; integrated with the reader is a two-port USB hub which is a nice tweak.

I’ve found the one I’m using most is the Sony Micro Vault USM-C, which does a pretty good job of keeping nosey folk out of my computer, but can also store important files, encrypted and accessible only to people with my fingers, and/or Gummi Bears.

Fingerprint Readers And Baths

Something I’ve noticed about biometric fingerprint readers. They don’t work well after a bath. Why is that? Are our fingers different after a bath? I mean, they look different — all wrinkly, for one thing — but why does that mess up the fingerprint reader? I do my best thinking in the bath, and it’s getting frustrating to have to wait five minutes while my fingers return to normal before I can gain access to my computer. That’s the sort of warning they should put on the box.

News: Spying On The Internet

 Sometimes I wonder what the Internet is going to look like a year down the track. Spam, viruses, and now the RIAA are changing the landscape. Here’s what : network spying. ZDNet reports that the University of Wyoming and a company called Audible Magic are developing technology that looks inside students’ file swaps for copyrighted music, with an eye toward ultimately blocking the transfer of such material.
 
Audible Magic’s technology specialises in identifying songs by their digital “fingerprints”, or acoustic characteristics. By joining up with a company called Palisade which provides network-security technology, the joint product is designed to intercept all traffic on a network, make a copy of it, and then make a running examination of that copy for items such as Kazaa or Gnutella traffic. When it finds digital packets originating from file-swapping software packages, it will compare the contents against Audible Magic’s database of fingerprints. If it finds a match to a copyrighted song, it will stop the transmission of a song in progress, even if some of the file has already been transferred.
 
The software is aimed at networks like universities and ISPs, who can of course refuse to install it. But what happens when the music business starts sueing them, as well as end users?
 

News: ‘RIAA Are Not Dumb’ Shock

 The RIAA are not dumb. That’s for sure. AP reports that court papers filed against a Brooklyn woman fighting efforts to identify her for allegedly sharing nearly 1,000 songs over the Internet, show that “using a surprisingly astute technical procedure, the Recording Industry Association of America examined song files on the woman’s computer and traced their digital fingerprints back to the former Napster file-sharing service, which shut down in 2001 after a court ruled it violated copyright laws”.
 
 
The RIAA’s latest court papers describe in unprecedented detail some sophisticated forensic techniques used by its investigators. For example, the industry disclosed its use of a library of digital fingerprints, called “hashes,” that it said can uniquely identify MP3 music files that had been traded on the Napster service as far back as May 2000. By comparing the fingerprints of music files on a person’s computer against its library, the RIAA believes it can determine in some cases whether someone recorded a song from a legally purchased CD or downloaded it from someone else over the Internet. A sobering thought.