Shield phone from spies with this sleeve

UNDER COVER: The OFF Pocket works as an electromagnetic barrier, preventing the penetration of signals that transmit data and audio.


    Sep 02, 2013

    Shield phone from spies with this sleeve

    STEALTH wear - clothing and accessories created to protect their wearers from surveillance - has largely been an abstract concept.

    But designer Adam Harvey is working to bring some of his ideas to the mainstream.

    He recently created a project on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding site, to see if he could drum up enough interest to finance a mobile-phone accessory, the OFF Pocket, which looks like a small sheath for a mobile device.

    It works as an electromagnetic barrier - functioning as something known as a Faraday cage, an enclosure where radio waves cannot pass through - preventing the penetration of signals that transmit data and audio.

    Mr Harvey and design partner Johanna Bloomfield originally set out with the modest goal of raising US$35,000 (S$44,600), enough to manufacture a small line of their phone protectors.

    But the project hit its goal in seven days; it currently has close to US$60,000 pledged through the site. Nearly 600 OFF Pockets have been ordered.

    Mr Harvey attributes the swell of interest in the project to the rising awareness of privacy and security concerns.

    He had been working on the concept for the OFF Pocket since 2011. The first version was designed as a permanent pocket in a pair of his jeans.

    The smartphone sleeves cost US$85 each, but Mr Harvey hopes to begin manufacturing enough of them to bring the cost down.

    The designer said that he could not afford to hire an outside firm to extensively test the effectiveness of his products. But he tested them himself with most of the popular smartphones and major wireless carriers.

    The design, which weaves together a number of different metal and nylon materials, "works like a metal cage, but is entirely flexible and made of fabric", he said.

    "Everything bounces off. Inside, there's zero signal," he said.