Audio Hotspot Attack: An Attack on Voice Assistance Systems Using Directional Sound Beams and its Feasibility

Ryo Iijima*, Shota Minami, Yunao Zhou, Tatsuya Takehisa, Takeshi Takahashi, Yasuhiro Oikawa, Tatsuya Mori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We propose a novel attack, called an 'Audio Hotspot Attack,' which performs an inaudible malicious voice command attack, by targeting voice assistance systems, e.g., smart speakers or in-car navigation systems. The key idea of the approach is to leverage directional sound beams generated from parametric loudspeakers, which emit amplitude-modulated ultrasounds that will be self-demodulated in the air. Our work goes beyond the previous studies of inaudible voice command attack in the following three aspects: (1) the attack can succeed on a long distance (3.5 meters in a small room, and 12 meters in a long hallway), (2) it can control the spot of the audible area by using two directional sound beams, which consist of a carrier wave and a sideband wave, and (3) the proposed attack leverages a physical phenomenon i.e., non-linearity in the air, to attack voice assistance systems. To evaluate the feasibility of the attack, we performed extensive in-lab experiments and a user study involving 20 participants. The results demonstrated that the attack was feasible in a real-world setting. We discussed the extent of the threat, as well as the possible countermeasures against the attack.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2004-2018
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Internet of Things
  • Voice assistance systems
  • acoustics
  • security
  • ultrasonic
  • voice commands attack

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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