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Researchers have always tried to build a device capable of seeing people through walls. However, previous efforts to develop such a system have involved the use of expensive and bulky radar technology that uses a part of the electromagnetic spectrum only available to the military. Now a system is being developed by Dina Katabi and Fadel Adib, could give all of us the ability to spot people in different rooms using low-cost Wi-Fi technology. The device is low-power, portable and simple enough for anyone to use, to give people the ability to see through walls and closed doors. The system, called “Wi-Vi,” stands for "Wi-Fi" and "vision." is based on a concept similar to radar and sonar imaging. But in contrast to radar and sonar, it transmits a low-power Wi-Fi signal and uses its reflections to track moving humans. It can do so even if the humans are in closed rooms or hiding behind a wall.
Simple definition for Wi-Vi is, as a Wi-Fi signal is transmitted at a wall, a portion of the signal penetrates through it, reflecting off any humans on the other side. However, only a tiny fraction of the signal makes it through to the other room, with the rest being reflected by the wall, or by other objects. Wi-Vi cancels out all these other reflections, and keeps only those from the moving human body. Previous work demonstrated that the subtle reflections of wireless inter signals bouncing off a human could be used to track that person's movements, but those previous experiments either required that a wireless router was already in the room of the person being tracked. Wi-Fi signals and recent advances in MIMO communications are used to build a device that can capture the motion of humans behind a wall and in closed rooms. Law enforcement personnel can use the device to avoid walking into an ambush, and minimize casualties in standoffs and hostage situations. Emergency responders can use it to see through rubble and collapsed structures. Ordinary users can leverage the device for gaming, intrusion detection, privacy-enhanced monitoring of children and elderly, or personal security when stepping into dark alleys and unknown places.
The concept underlying seeing through opaque obstacles is similar to radar and sonar imaging. Specifically, when faced with a non-metallic wall, a fraction of the RF signal would traverse the wall, reflect off objects and humans, and come back imprinted with a signature of what is inside a closed room. By capturing these reflections, we can image objects behind a wall.
Wi-Vi is a see-through-wall technology that is low-bandwidth, low-power, compact, and accessible to non-military entities. Wi-Vi is a see-through-wall device that employs Wi-Fi signals in the 2.4 GHz ISM band.