Have you ever dreamed of having X-ray vision? A new Wi-Fi based technology will allow you to see your friend picking their nose in the next room.
Technology that would allow people to see through walls has been worked on in the past, but the materials were too expensive for civilian use and accessed a part of the electromagnetic spectrum only for the military, according to an MIT press release.
Now, MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has come up with a way to see through walls with low-cost technology.
"We wanted to create a device that is low-power, portable and simple enough for anyone to use, to give people the ability to see through walls and closed doors," said Dina Katabi, an MIT professor.
The new system, dubbed "Wi-Vi," uses technology similar to radar and sonar imaging.
A low-powered Wi-Fi signal tracks movement in other rooms through reflection. As the Wi-Fi signal is emitted reflections bounce of humans through the walls, even if the person is in an enclosed room. The roadblock was that only some of the signal made it through the wall, and sometimes bounced off non-human objects.
"We had to come up with a technology that could cancel out all these other reflections, and keep only those from the moving human body," Katabi said.
Katabi, along with her graduate student Fadel Adib created a system containing two transmit antennas and a single receiver. One antenna emits an inverse signal to the other, so they cancel each other out. Any still object, such as a wall, will also interfere with the signal because it creates an identical reflection.
Moving objects give off two signals, which allows the device to recognize it through something static like a wall.
"The person moves behind the wall, all reflections from static objects are cancelled out, and the only thing registered by the device is the moving human," Adib said.
Wi-Vi already has a number of prospected uses. The technology could be used for disaster relief, the X-ray vision could help rescuers search for people trapped in rubble from an earthquake. The device could also be used for personal safety.
"If you are walking at night and you have the feeling that someone is following you, then you could use it to check if there is someone behind the fence or behind a corner," Katabi said.
Since Wi-Vi can detect gestures through a wall it could allow a person to turn on and off motion sensing objects, such as lights, from another room. Venkat Padmanabhan, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research believes the technology could revolutionize gaming as well. Wi-Vi could allow gamers to interact with their consoles from another room.