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Apple Declares War on Sneaker Hackers

Makes it Harder to Hack Your Shoes

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The IPod Nano and Nike TM shoe was a great idea for people to listen to music as they walk, and get information on how much they walked during the time the two systems were synched. Apple has decided to declare war against sneaker hackers, and have a patent to work out if the system of nano and sensor is an “authorized garment”.

Apple is trying to make it harder to hack your shoes by working out a patent that uses the authorized garment system. Most think that this will be an RFID chip that is embedded in the garment to make sure it is an actual authorized Garment. Since RFID security is near non-existent there should be a booming market in RFID cloning for this patent as a way to work around the protection mechanism. The USPTO patent application states:

The Nike iPod Sport Kit.TM. is arranged such that at least one of the Nike+.TM. shoes includes a sensor (that includes an accelerometer/transmitter) mounted under the inner sole and a receiver that communicates with the iPod nano.TM.. In order to accommodate the sensor and provide appropriate data to the iPod nano.TM., the shoe must be a Nike+.TM. model with a special pocket in which to place the sensor. However, some people have taken it upon themselves to remove the sensor from the special pocket of the Nike+.TM. shoe and place it at inappropriate locations (shoelaces, for example) or place it on non-Nike+.TM. model shoes.
Therefore, what is desired is a method of electronically pairing a sensor and an authorized garment. Source: USPTO

Hacking your gear is a time honored tradition, Podophile has a great DIY demonstration on exactly how to do this, where the sensor is located and how to hack your Nike shoe and move the sensor to another system. While Apple states that the sensor placement is important to get accurate data that is debatable, most people with pedometers just attach them to the shoe in any old place to get a rough idea of how far they have walked. If you are looking for scientifically valid data, you won’t use an IPod and a Nike shoe, you will use pounds of scientific equipment on a carefully measured track. Or just wander down to your local high school on the weekend and run their ¼ mile track or walk their ¼ mile track anyway.

 This simple 1 minute video goes right into how to do the hack, and the easy way to support sneaker hackers worldwide.

In all this might be a bad idea for Apple to pursue, and there is no way to know if they will actually do this as they move forward and probably get the patent. You can expect though that there is going to be a brisk market for RFID authorized chip clones to go along with the hack unless RFID chip technology becomes more secure and they use one that cannot be cloned.

Apple Declares War on Sneaker Hackers
About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer
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  • http://www.dogdiarrhea.org Sam

    I had no idea there are Sneaker hackers out there . This gives me a new perspective on my old sneakers LOL