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Car Whisperer: Intra-vehicular data broadcasting via the audio infrastructure

College
College of Engineering (COE)
Researchers
Koksal, C. Emre
Indukuri, Harihara Varma
Licensing Manager
Smith, Richard smith.12123@osu.edu

TS-037355 — A vehicular cybersecurity system that utilizes intra-vehicular communication.

Currently, all intra vehicular communication or signaling between the sensors and Engine Control Unit (ECU) in a car is carried out utilizing cables. These cables are heavy, bulky and prone to external attacks like tapping. So, there is a need for a channel that can be used to communicate data bet…

The Need

Currently, all intra vehicular communication or signaling between the sensors and Engine Control Unit (ECU) in a car is carried out utilizing cables. These cables are heavy, bulky and prone to external attacks like tapping. So, there is a need for a channel that can be used to communicate data between the sensors and ECU. There has been a lot of research regarding this problem and an applicable solution is to use a wireless channel and move as much signaling to this medium. For this, Radio Frequency waves in the frequency range of Giga Hertz could be used with a wireless standard like Bluetooth or ZigBee. However, studies show that even these technologies are prone to jamming from outside the car and eavesdropping. Studies prove that a jammer placed in the vicinity of the car could easily jam a RF signal. In view of issues raised above, there is a requirement for a wireless channel which cannot be jammed easily from outside the car.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Can Koksal, has developed a system that could potentially solve the issue described above. The researchers have developed and implemented a full OFDM transceiver system for the wideband intra-vehicular acoustic channel that transmits any low rate data within the car using sound waves as the channel rather than cables or radio waves. For this, the car’s existing sound/speaker system was exploited to communicate any low rate data. Any low rate data that needs to be transmitted is mapped, coded, pulse shaped, modulated and then finally broadcasted through the car’s speakers. A receiver which is a microphone captures the broadcasted signal, demodulates, applies matched filtering, does channel decoding, detects bits from symbols to make sense of the data transmitted. The approach uses lower-power signals in the frequency range of 18KHz – 23KHz (ultra sound frequencies). These frequencies are within the dynamic range of almost all existing commercial speakers but rarely in the audible range of the human ear. A hardware implementation and mobile Android application have been developed for this system.

Commercial Applications

  • Intra-vehicular Communication/Signaling
  • Car-to-phone Communication
  • Automobile Technology
  • Vehicular Sound/Speaker Systems

Benefits/Advantages

  • Improves intra-vehicle communication security
  • Enhances driver experience
  • Eliminates requirement for additional wireless equipment
  • Reduces wireless interference caused by existing unlicensed spectrum devices