Key duplicating

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Several years ago I worked in an office in Clearwater. One day, for some reason I don’t recall, I had to borrow a friend’s car at lunchtime to go run a couple of errands. Being a bit of a prankster (surprise!), I made a quick stop at a hardware and had a copy made of her car key. Before putting my plan into action, I waited a few weeks so she would not connect it with my using her car.

On a day when she was scheduled to leave about 15 minutes early, I quickly went out to the parking lot and moved her car to a different space – instead of being in one of the parking spaces, I parallel parked it by the sidewalk next to the building. Once she got in the elevator to leave, I let a few others in on the joke and we watched the action from a convenient window.

She walked out to the lot, and saw the car that looked very similar to hers parked in the odd spot. She walked over to where she usually parked, and her car obviously wasn’t there. She went back to the car, looked in and saw that it was hers. But how did it get there? What was going on? She came back up to the office in confusion, to see if her co-workers could come up with a solution to this mystery. After we all had a good laugh (she was a good sport), she said that she thought maybe terrorists were involved.

My point with this story is this – in the past, anyone that had your key(s) could very easily make a copy for future use. This has now changed. Now, it is possible to make a duplicate key and all that’s needed is a photograph of the key.

In one demonstration of the new software system, the computer scientists took pictures of common residential house keys with a cell phone camera, fed the image into their software which then produced the information needed to create identical copies. In another example, they used a five inch telephoto lens to capture images from the roof of a campus building and duplicate keys sitting on a café table more than 200 feet away.

You can read the full report here. And from now on, keep your keys in your pocket!

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