In January 2014 the heat sensor camera FLIR One was presented in US and is now commercially available. The camera costs 350 US$ and allows to produce videos and photos with heat signatures of surfaces in colors. For this purpose the iPhone has only to be placed in the FLIR-one case and a special app has to be started.
Recently a blogger named Mark Rober demonstrates on YouTube a new “use case”: the camera can be used to spy pin codes entered for credit cards and Maestro cards at ATM. For this purpose it is enough to make a photo of the keypad a few seconds after the person left. The heat photo reveals first the keys pressed and second also the order. The latter can be guessed by the different heat grade of the keys – the warmer the key, the later it was pressed and vice versa.
Image: Mark Rober
The idea is not new and was already published in a Study 2011. However, at this time there did not exist such inexpensive heat sensors. The system works only on plastic key pads, metal delivers only diffuse images. Furthermore this trick can be easily prevented by just touching more than the keys necessary for the pin code. In this case the heat image delivers no usable information.