MIT researchers use Wi-Fi to watch people through walls

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a way of recognising people through walls by using Wi-Fi.

The technology, called RF Capture, reconstructs a human figure by analysing the reflection of signals it emits multiple times. The image produced looks like a heat sensitive picture.

The system does not require the person to wear any sensors, and its transmitted power is 10,000 times lower than that of a standard cell-phone.

The technology can recognise who the person behind the wall is, trace handwriting and determine movements as subtle as breathing.

The device’s motion-capturing technology makes it valuable for smart homes, according to MIT professor Dina Katabi.

"We’re working to turn this technology into an in-home device that can call 911 if it detects that a family member has fallen unconscious," Katabi told MIT News.

"You could also imagine it being used to operate your lights and TVs, or to adjust your heating by monitoring where you are in the house."

The research team is in the process of spinning out a product called Emerald that aims to detect, predict and prevent falls among the elderly.

The team has shown that RF Capture can detect gestures and body movements as subtle as the rise and fall of a person’s chest from the other side of a house, allowing a mother to monitor a baby’s breathing or a firefighter to determine if there are survivors inside a burning building.

Researchers at MIT recently created a solar-powered water purification system for residents of a remote Mexican village.

Read the MIT paper here.

Images via MIT

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