In a situation as notable for its comedic potential as for its criminal ingenuity, belligerent hackers could thus wirelessly take control of your “household robots”—Denning’s group chose the Robosapien, Rovio, and Spykee for testing—and surreptitiously gain access to information about your house. Room layout, location of motion sensors, whether or not a certain door has been locked at night, if anyone is even home, or, more directly, where certain things, like jewels, cash, pharmaceuticals, or a handgun, might be kept.

The most plausible scenario the team came up with involved something like a robot still-life, an American Gothic with keys: the Robosapien would simply grab ahold of your house keys and the Rovio would then sit there filming it.

This cinematographic duo would thus pose there looking at each other, under the control of hackers huddling in a van somewhere wearing Stadium Pals, long enough that they could 3D-map the keys from the ensuing image feed and then have accurate copies produced.

Geoff Manaugh