Is iPhone application a threat to airspace?

29 September,2010 06:45 AM IST |   |  Bipin Kumar Singh

New iPhone app poses security threat by enabling users to access critical details like route, altitude and speed of an aircraft just by pointing to it in the sky

New iPhone app poses security threat by enabling users to access critical details like route, altitude and speed of an aircraft just by pointing to it in the sky


Au00a0new iPhone app which enables users to point at an aircraft in the sky and get details like its destination, speed and even altitude is sure to raise the shackles of security agencies in the country at a time when the terror threat is at an all-time high.

Pinkfroot, a UK-based company, has come up with the application called Plane Finder AR, which uses the iPhone's camera to transmit the real time data to the user, who gets a taste of augmented reality (see box). While aeroplane enthusiasts are understandably kicked about the idea already, they are also apprehensive that the app may be blocked here even before it hits Indian shores.

"The application sounds very interesting but I don't think it will be useful to the general user, who would not really care for details like altitude. Plus, it can definitely pose a threat if criminal elements misuse it," said iPhone user Aneesh Singh.

"Apps like these increase sales of iPhones. People will definitely buy the app if it is sold in India," said Ramesh Kumar, who owns a gadget shop at the Heera Panna Market.

Security version
MiD DAY spoke to officials at the Air Traffic Control but they said they were not aware of any such application. "I haven't heard of any such invention. The manufacturing company will be in a better position to comment on this," said G S Jungare, general manager, Mumbai ATC.

CISF Senior Commandant J S Negi said, "I don't know much about this since it's a technology related issue, but as far as photography is concerned, we follow guidelines strictly and don't allow people to photograph aircraft or the security around airplanes."

DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.

Professor Girish Kumar, IIT Bombay, said, "I am surprised to hear about this application. It must have access to many databases to provide such information in real time."

Former joint director, Intelligence Bureau, M K Dhar, said, "New inventions like these happen all the time. The best thing we can do is to adjust our own security accordingly."

Fly away: Plane Finder AR is an app that identifies which aircraft are
overhead and label them in real-time using the Apple smartphone's

Plane finder

The app, called 'Plane Finder AR,' combines augmented reality with data from virtual radar maps to track commercial planes passing overhead. All you have to do is point your iPhone at an aircraft, snap a photo, and the app will instantly give you a full slate of details: the flight's registration number, where it's headed, how far away it is, and how fast it's traveling. Plane Finder AR retails for $2.99 (Rs 135). This app works by picking up the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data from the planes, meaning that not every plane that you point your iPhone at will have its information displayed. Australia is the first country with full, nationwide ADS-B coverage.

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iPhone application Plane finder airspace threat news Mumbai