A new report says that a modest Wi-Fi router signal can be used to track your movements around a room, bat style.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University recently published a report in which they detailed an experiment using ordinary Wi-Fi routers off-the-shelf to detect people’s locations, as well as their positions, in a room.
The trial, while not without flaws, was an overall success, as it demonstrated that endpoints could be used to track people. It is described as an ethical and privacy-sensitive way to monitor individuals (mostly elderly and lonely).
In layman’s terms, the Wi-Fi signal sent by routers can be used as a kind of sonar, with AI-powered software analyzing the difference in intensity between the outgoing and incoming signals, and coming back with wire images of people in the field.
In some cases, the images came back incomplete, or showed people in strange and unnatural positions, which clearly indicates that the method still needs to work. But in many cases, the AI-generated images were very accurate. The positions of the people inside the room were accurate, their proportions were accurate, and their postures were accurate.
Besides the occasional display error, another major challenge is being able to track more people. To date, routers can successfully track up to three people.
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In the experiment, the researchers used TP-Link Archer A7 AC1750 devices, which cost $32. Compared to other tracking technologies, such as lidar or radar, it is much cheaper to use Wi-Fi routers for this purpose. In some cases, routers can be a better solution compared to cameras, since they work even if people are hidden behind things like furniture.
It looks as though the researchers will continue their work, trying to improve the solution via better general training data for Wi-Fi-based visualization.
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Via: Tom’s Hardware