High-tech Running Shoes Raise Privacy Concerns, Researchers Say
This holiday season, gift-givers may unwittingly give their favorite athlete a workout accessory that can double as a tracking device. Researchers in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington say there are serious privacy breaches posed by the gadget, which is marketed to runners but may be equally attractive to stalkers and thieves.
"It is easy for someone to use the Nike+iPod as a tracking device," says Scott Saponas, a doctoral student in computer science and lead author of a technical report posted online on Nov. 30. "It's an example of how new gadgetry can erode our personal privacy."
The researchers suggest that people who own a Nike+iPod Sport Kit turn it off when they're not exercising so that it stops emitting signals.
Saponas is an avid runner and had originally bought the device to use in his workouts, before he started wondering about potential security risks. Now, he and his colleagues have built a range of low-cost devices that use information from his Nike+iPod to monitor his whereabouts. Other researchers on the report are UW graduate students Jonathan Lester and Carl Hartung, and Yoshi Kohno, assistant professor of computer science and engineering.
Since its August release, retailers have sold more than 450,000 Nike+iPod Sport Kits, according to industry publication AppleInsider. The $29 item consists of two parts. One piece is a chip the size of a dinner mint