Most probably wouldn’t have anticipated a smartphone case being high on Edward Snowden’s to-do list, but an on-going collaboration with Andrew “Bunnie” Huang detailed today during an event at MIT Media Lab certainly comports with some of the NSA’s whistle blower’s chief concerns.
The iPhone peripheral is designed to monitor signals sent to the smartphone’s internal antennas to determine whether the device is transmitting data that can put users at risk of detection – particularly people in precarious positions like journalists in embattled areas.
Huang spoke with Wired ahead of the event, explaining that the case is designed to offer far more protection against inadvertent data transmission that airplane mode, “You can think your phone’s radios are off, and not telling your location to anyone, but actually still be at risk.”
The device is designed to be unassuming, a pack that attaches to the bottom of the phone with a small display. Inside, wires extend into the handset via the SIM slot, monitoring signals sent from the iPhone’s various wireless transmitters. If the wrong manner of transmission is detected, the system with either triggers an alert of potentially shut the phone off.
The device is still in the early design stages, but the duo have detailed the plan and currently working on a prototype for potential production.