It knows where you go

Times Staff Writer

YOUR NEW NIKE+IPOD SPORT KIT — YOUR new Nike+iPod Sport Kit — a disc that fits in your running shoes and beams workout information to your nano — might do more than whisper sweet workout data into your ear. It could help a third party, such as a jealous spouse, spy on you.

Designed for music-loving, Nike-wearing athletes, the system provides minute-by-minute updates on distance, speed and calories burned. But researchers at the University of Washington have found that the signal the sensor emits can be read by a compatible home-built receiver within a range of 60 feet.

It's not an optimal way to track someone, but "if you have multiple receivers out there, like say on a college campus — at a dorm and cafeteria and gym — you could track when that person goes to those different places," says Scott Saponas, a doctoral student in computer science and lead author on the technical report, which appeared Nov. 30 on the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering website.

Fortunately, the sensor can be turned off or removed between workouts. Saponas declined to speculate on the probability of spying: "Really, the only thing as pure science researchers we address is the capability. We don't know whether somebody would. I'm certainly not an expert on anything related to stalking."

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