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MIT demonstrates WiFi motion capture

It can even see through walls
Thu Dec 12 2013, 17:19

BOFFINS at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are experimenting with Witrack, a form of motion capture that doesn't use cameras.

Witrack can follow your movements if you're on the other side of a wall. It sounds creepy, but it's not mysterious. The paper, "3D Tracking via Body Radio Reflections" outlines a technique by which body movement and shape can profiled using wireless signals.

The result is that Witrack detects an accurate model of the body that can track a person where cameras can't, as far as the wireless signal penetrates and is reflected.

This technology could have a range of uses from disaster recovery assistance to support for law enforcement.

A prime example is home security. By analysing any disruption within the signal field, the device could be used as a cheap, effective motion detector that could alert homeowners to intruders. With connectivity to the internet, it could also alert law enforcement authorities.

Another use might be in the palliative care of the elderly or vulnerable. If the signal detects that a subject is horizontal for a significant length of time, it might indicate a fall or fainting spell that needs the attention of a caregiver.

These are just a couple ideas for using a concept that offers many possibilities, however as yet it is still at the research stage.

The research paper discusses the use of a custom designed broadcast signal field, but we wonder if there could be scope in a finished product for using the myriad existing signals that surround us every day, offering the potential for cheap motion capture in every home. µ


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