Adib: Wireless “X-ray vision” could power virtual reality, smart homes, & Hollywood


November 4, 2015

Adib virtual x-ray

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has long believed that wireless signals like WiFi can be used to see things that are invisible to the naked eye. Since 2013, CSAIL researchers have been developing technologies that use wireless signals to track human motion. The team has shown that it can detect gestures and body movementsas subtle as the rise and fall of a person’s chest from the other side of a house, allowing a mother to monitor a baby’s breathing or a firefighter to determine if there are survivors inside a burning building.

Next up? Seeing a person’s silhouette and even distinguishing between individuals. In a paper accepted to the SIGGRAPH Asia conference taking place next month, the team presents a new technology called RF Capture that picks up wireless reflections off the human body to see the silhouette of a human standing behind a wall. By tracking the silhouette, the device can trace a person’s hand as he writes in the air and even distinguish between 15 different people through a wall with nearly 90 percent accuracy. In other words, from the opposite side of a building, RF Capture can determine where you are, who you are, and even which hand you are moving.

Researchers say the technology could have major implications for everything from gaming and filmmaking to emergency response and eldercare. Take, for example, motion capture in movie production: “Today actors have to wear markers on their bodies and move in a specific room full of cameras,” says PhD student Fadel Adib, who is lead author on the new paper. “RF Capture would enable motion capture without body sensors and could track actors’ movements even if they are behind furniture or walls.”  Read more

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