MIT’s Cameraless Tracking System Can See Through Walls

/ 4 years ago


Motion tracking and home automation are still a little rough around the edges, sure we have thinks like the new Kinect, which in many ways is an incredibly powerful tool, but the Kinect and other camera based tech like it, comes with several major flaws. Firstly you have to be in line of sight of the camera, and secondly you’ll need another camera for each room you want to use it in, even then various objects and the size of the room will limit its usability for home automation.

A team of engineers at MIT have created a new system which they call WiTrack, and it’s a 3D system like Kinect, only it can track you throughout the entire house, even through walls and it does it all without the use of a camera.


WiTrack uses radio signals to track you “whose power is 100 times smaller than Wi-Fi and 1,000 times smaller than cellphone transmissions” and it does this by reflecting signals off of your body much in the same way that echo location or sonar works, and it’s even accurate to between 10 and 21cm even in its early prototype stage. Interesting the system can detect when a person has fallen with an accuracy of 96.6%, a system that could prove useful for providing extra care to elderly people, or anyone who is in need of extra care.

“We believe there are endless possibilities in a smart home environment,” says Fadel Adib, one of the makers of WiTrack (along with Zachary Kabelak, Dina Katabi, and Robert C. Miller). “For instance, it can know when a person leaves a room and enters a different room, in which case it would automatically turn off the lights of the room he is leaving, and turn on the lights of the room he is entering. In another application, it can sense when a person gets out of bed and automatically turn on the hot water in the shower.”

Home automation is certainly becoming more common place, as more devices become controllable from your smartphone, internet, voice controller, it’s hardly a revolution, but it is happening and systems like WiTrack certainly sound like a step in the right direction, or at least better than needing to install motion tracking cameras everywhere.

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