Enabling Secret Key Distribution over Screen-to-Camera Channel Leveraging Color Shift Property

Hongbo Liu, Cong Shi, Yingying Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent years witnessed the emergence of visible light communication (VLC) over screen-to-camera channel, such as barcode and unobtrusive optical pattern, due to the widely adoption of screen and camera in plenty of electronic devices. The prevalence of wide viewing angle screen and high standard cameras also imposes great threat for visible light communication, and the information leakage over screen-to-camera channel has been rarely explored. In this paper, we propose a secret key distribution system leveraging the unique color shift property over screen-to-camera channel. To facilitate such design, two practical secret key distribution methods, key matching-based and nearest next hop-based, are developed to map the secret key into a unique optical pattern on screen, which can only be correctly decoded by the legitimate user situated at an accessible region. We also provide theoretical analysis on the security of both methods. The performance of the proposed system is implemented with off-the-shelf devices and validated under various experimental scenarios. The results demonstrate that our system can achieve high bit-decoding accuracy for the legitimate users while maintaining low recovery accuracy for the attackers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3581-3594
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Secret key distribution
  • color shift
  • screen-to-camera channel


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