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Science: 

Wi-Fi can give you Predator vision

We take Wi-Fi for granted nowadays, but it’s a pretty amazing piece of technology. Now researchers have found another use for it – seeing people through walls.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab developed software that uses variations in Wi-Fi signals to discern human silhouettes through walls. The result is Predator-style body heat images.

To do this, a device called RF-Capture transmits wireless signals and analyses their reflections to piece together a human form. It can determine subtle differences in body shapes with a 90 per cent accuracy, and distinguish between 15 people through a wall. You can even see the peoples’ breathing patterns and heart rate.

As various parts of the body are reflected in the wireless signal, the RF-Capture does as its name suggests, and takes snapshots. An algorithm identifies the various body parts, and stitches them together to make an image of the figure. When they focussed on a specific movement pattern, the researchers could trace a person’s handwriting as they wrote in the air. Which isn’t exactly useful, but is very accurate indeed.

In terms of practical uses, it could be used for gesture-controlled smart home appliances, and to see if an old person living alone was coping okay, or if they had fallen down. The potential for misuse should be minimised too – the researchers are designing blockers that mean you can only be tracked by your own device. Bad luck, anyone thinking of spying on their neighbors.

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