We’ve heard of Nokia in relation to innovations in quantum cryptography before, but now its their smartphones being used by others to push the boundaries. The Nokia N9, just like the N900, is still impressing after release and discontinuation. Researchers out of Switzerland have found a way, using the N9 and its camera, to generate random digits. You may think, random digits isn’t a big breakthrough, but it is.
See, in the world of information security, the more randomly generated your data is, the harder it is to crack. Simply writing a random generator algorithm won’t work as it still follows a set pattern, despite being “random”. What these physicists have done, is use the N9′s camera to capture photons, convert them into electrons and use this data to generate random numbers.
The set up is simple in principle. Each pixel senses the number of photons that arrive in a certain period of time. These photons are converted into electrons, which are then amplified by a factor determined by the camera’s sensitivity setting (ISO setting).
It’s straightforward to calculate the average number of electrons this process should produce, given the probabilistic nature of photon emission. But the actual number of electrons should differ by a number that is random. That produces a single random digit. And since a light-sensitive array consists of many pixels working in parallel, it is possible to generate a large quantity of random digits from each image.