British engineers from University College London have developed a method for literally seeing through walls using Wi-Fi.
Researchers Karl Woodbridge and Kevin Chetty have developed a system that uses an apparatus consisting of two antennae and is no larger than a suitcase for detecting radio waves transmitted by Wi-Fi. Any room that has Wi-Fi is automatically filled with radio waves of frequencies between 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
When one of these radio waves reflects off a moving object, its frequency changes, a phenomenon described as the doppler effect. The described suitcase device uses the doppler effect to detect moving people or objects within range of these waves and display their shape on-screen. The device itself doesn’t emit radio waves and thus can’t be detected either!
One limiting factor of the doppler effect is that it can only detect moving objects. With current technology, a wrongdoer would need to simply stop moving to remain undetectable. Down the road though, heightened sensors would allow for a bad guy to be detected based on the movement of his rib cage when he breathes.
Today, the system can accurately detect a person’s location, speed, and direction of travel though a 1-foot thick brick wall! The implications of this technology for urban warfare are undoubtedly the reason why it’s being funded by the government for military use. It could have some cool commercial applications down the road as well. What would you use this super power for?
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