Sneakey: copy keys from photos

Sneakey: copy keys from photos

Via Discovery News:

Scientists in California have developed a software algorithm that automatically creates a physical key based solely on a picture of one, regardless of angle or distance. The project, called Sneakey, was meant to warn people about the dangers of haphazardly placing keys in the open or posting images of them online.

When Savage and his students searched online photo sharing Web sites, like Flickr, they easily found thousands of photos of keys with enough definition to replicate. A more social person could simply use their cell phone camera to snap a quick picture of stray keys on a table top.

the researchers set up a camera with a zoom lens 200 feet away. Using those photos, they created a working key 80 percent on their first try. Within three attempts they opened every lock.

Check out the researcher’s site here, where you can learn more and read their paper: “Reconsidering Physical Key Secrecy: Teleduplication via Optical Decoding.”

So, if I’m understanding this correctly, you could have a camera with zoom hundreds of feet away from a door and leave it recording. If you’ve achieved the right angle, you could capture a few frames of the key pre-insertion-into-the-door that let you then make your own copy!

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Luke Iseman

Luke Iseman makes stuff, some of which works. He invites you to drive a bike for a living (, stop killing your garden (, and live in an off-grid shipping container (

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