MIT scientists eavesdrop using a bag of chips, plant leaves

Computer scientists and engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology joined with colleagues at Microsoft Research and Adobe Research to create an algorithm that reconstructs audio signals from everyday items like a bag of chips, aluminum foil or the leaves of a potted plant.

“When sound hits an object, it causes the object to vibrate,” Abe Davis, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and first author on the new paper, said in a statement by the school. “The motion of this vibration creates a very subtle visual signal that’s usually invisible to the naked eye. People didn’t realize that this information was there.”