Wireless smart home system 'sees' through walls

June 14, 2018 // By Rich Pell
Researchers at MIT (Cambridge, MA) have developed a wireless smart-home system that can monitor a person's movements from the other side of a wall.

The project, called "RF-Pose," uses artificial intelligence (AI) to teach wireless devices to sense people's postures and movement, even from the other side of a wall. Such a system, say the researchers, could serve as a health care system used to monitor diseases and help the elderly "age in place."

For example, they say, RF-Pose could be used to monitor diseases like Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis (MS), and muscular dystrophy, and provide a better understanding of disease progression while allowing doctors to adjust medications accordingly. It could also help elderly people live more independently, while providing the security of monitoring for falls, injuries, and changes in activity patterns.

"We've seen that monitoring patients' walking speed and ability to do basic activities on their own gives health care providers a window into their lives that they didn't have before, which could be meaningful for a whole range of diseases," says Professor Dina Katabi from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), who co-wrote a new paper about the project. "A key advantage of our approach is that patients do not have to wear sensors or remember to charge their devices."

The system is based on wireless signals in the Wi-Fi frequencies that can traverse walls and reflect off the human body. The researchers use a neural network to analyze such radio signals, and then create a dynamic stick figure that walks, stops, sits, and moves its limbs as the person performs those actions.


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