HOWTO reproduce a key from a distant, angled photo

Sneakey is a project from Benjamin Laxton, Kai Wang, and Stefan Savage at the UCSD vision lab that has shown that it is possible to duplicate keys from photos taken at a distance and/or an angle. They've published a paper and are offering to release their code if there is "sufficient interest."

The access control provided by a physical lock is based on the assumption that the information content of the corresponding key is private — that duplication should require either possession of the key or a priori knowledge of how it was cut. However, the ever-increasing capabilities and prevalence of digital imaging technologies present a fundamental challenge to this privacy assumption. Using modest imaging equipment and standard computer vision algorithms, we demonstrate the effectiveness of physical key teleduplication — extracting a key's complete and precise bitting code at a distance via optical decoding and then cutting precise duplicates. We describe our prototype system, Sneakey, and evaluate its effectiveness, in both laboratory and real-world settings, using the most popular residential key types in the U.S.


(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)