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China’s covert spy pad technology

January 19, 2011
spy padWatch your step — you might just be standing on a spy pad.

Chinese researchers have given new meaning to the term “watch your step” with a so-called “spy pad,” a device that can identify people by their gait, the South China Morning Post reported.

According to a Wikileaks document released in December, the device is able to capture the biometric information of anyone who steps on it, such as the dimension, weight and force applied by a person’s foot when they walk.

Developers believe these statistics are unique to each individual and can be used for identification. The spy pad’s sensors are so sensitive that they are supposedly able to track human targets even if they’ve changed shoes.

You’ve got to wonder why Ian Fleming didn’t think of it when he was writing the James Bond books. Or, for that matter, George Orwell when he was writing “1984.”

Acording to the SCMP report, spy pads were created by scientists at China’s IIM, or Institute of Intelligent Machines, reportedly in collaboration with developers at Nintendo, which may explain the device’s similarities with the Wii Fit Balance Board.

The Ministry for State Security, China’s spy agency, has already jumped on the project and is currently its biggest financier, according to the South China Morning Post.

Zhou Xu, a leading researcher on the project, is quoted by the Post as saying that “the government wants to use this device to track some citizens of concern.”

The gadget piqued the curiosity of U.S. diplomats in Beijing, who wrote in a diplomatic cable in February last year:

“The device can be covertly installed in a floor and is able to collect biometrics data on individuals covertly without their knowledge.

“When questioned about the device’s potential applications, IIM officials stated the device was being used by ‘secret’ customers and was not available on the commercial market.”

The Post reported that the gadget has been tested on the lab’s 100-odd employees and has an accuracy rate of 98 percent.

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  1. March 4, 2011 at 12:13 am
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