New radio-wave technology can see people through walls

July 9, 2018

New smart technology known as RF-Pose can see through walls to track and identify people, according to a group of MIT researchers, NBC News Mach reports.

“We’ve seen that monitoring patients’ walking speed and ability to do basic activities on their own gives healthcare providers a window into their lives that they didn’t have before, which could be meaningful for a whole range of diseases,” MIT computer scientist Dina Katabi wrote in a statement, per the report.

Other potentially uses for the rapidly improving radar-like technology can include search and rescue or even law enforcement, which raises privacy concerns, according to NBC.

RF-Pose can show whether people are walking, sitting, standing or even waving and “can identify individuals from a known group with a success rate of 83%,” according to the research presented at a computer vision conference in Salt Lake City last month.

RF-Pose is a laptop-sized radio transmitter which uses artificial intelligence to interpret radio wave data, identifying “human bodies because of their high water content,” reproducing stick figures on a screen, according to the report. Computer algorithms analyze the reflected waves, homing in on the head, hands, feet and other key body parts to produce moving stick figures on a screen.

There are some limits to the thickness of the walls the signals are received through right now, but “it could become a breakthrough” once that is addressed, according to Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University researcher Ginés Hidalgo.

Because the camera is intended to pass through walls, there are inherent privacy concerns because a subject will not be able to see the transmitter and therefore would be unaware of it.

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