This week at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Laboratory (CSAIL), a team of MIT students showed off a device that uses radio antennae to ‘see’ through walls and track a person’s movement, plus or minus 10 centimeters. Currently, the most efficient way to track a person’s movement requires a WiFi signal and a WiFi-transmitting device, such as a smartphone, to be physically on the person being tracked.
Ph.D candidate Fadel Adib told IDG’s Nick Barber that the new system requires no transmitter and is more accurate than any WiFi signal. WiFi localization can only detect two dimensions (forward/backward and left/right) whereas the new sensor can detect three dimensions (up/down). The X-ray system can actually sense all the movements of a person who is walking, covering all of his or her stops, pauses, and actions, like the raising of an arm.
The next step, according to Adib, is to make the device more accurate by implementing an algorithm that can detect whether or not a person is breathing. He also wants the system to display a real-time silhouette of the person it is tracking, versus the current two-dimensional red dot.
In addition to making the device more accurate, masters student Zach Kabelac believes the team can get it down to about the size of Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor. This will be important if they ever decide to commercialize this tech, as in its present state, the device is basically just a bunch of wires and antennae taped to a desk.
The biggest drawback at this point is that the signals can only detect one person’s movements at a time, but Adib and Kabelac will probably figure out how to fix that shortcoming as well.
Check out the tech in motion in the video below, courtesy of IDG News.