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New Superpower for Humanity: Wi-Fi-Vision
or How AI Allows your Router to See you While you're in the Toilet.
Recently I saw a publication of a new usage for Wifi networks where they created an AI that using the wifi signals from a normal router could be trained on identifying human bodies and “seeing” humans using the Wi-Fi signals similarly to how a bat uses sonar, but able to ignore walls and other types of obstacles in between. This seems interesting because it represents an interesting technological development that could lead to big repercussions regarding privacy for us humans.
But first let’s start with the good stuff.
Yeah, even though the preface makes it seem a bit ominous this technology isn’t that new, a group from MIT already had published some advances in this in 2013 and it seemed like the geekiest video of scientist from MIT I’ve seen:
Researchers were able to also measure the altitude of people when inside an area that is being “watched” by the Wifi and for example, this technology could be used in home for the elderly or hospitals to detect when someone has had an accident and suddenly someone falls to the ground, having a quicker and faster response which cold save lives by notifying nurses, or if it’s at home sending an alarm to emergency services or an ambulance.
Also because of the high fidelity that the latest versions of Wi-Fi vision, it can detect when people are breathing and could help monitor vital signs again in places like care facilities or hospitals. This could also be used for security systems a router is more discrete than a video camera and can alarm police or security, whenever a Human is inside a perimeter and not just any movement that can have for example to avoid alarms being triggered by pets, wild animals or a falling branch from a tree.
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A great use of this technology could be also as a support for rescue missions in places of catastrophes like the ones we’ve seen recently in Turkey and Syria, people under rouble could be identified and see if they are breathing or not using WiFi vision which can help rescuers identify where people are under the rubble without having to move anything reducing time of rescuers just guessing where survivors could be and also to check if people are still alive under the rubble after a certain period of time or not and prioritize rescue efforts.
Another use could be with VR Gaming where it could help reduce latency when being connected or even eliminating the need of clunky controllers and just a headset and then people could use their bodies and the headset alongside a router could help detect faster and precise movements from the people using it. Which could give more freedom of movement (and higher chances of thrashing all over your house hitting your pets children, partners and breaking more stuff)
Now what about the scary stuff
I don’t know if this is scary I think it depends on the person but an improved and cheap capacity to detect humans ( and probably this could be used for other animals or shapes as well for identifying moving objects or creatures inside any structure) But I can see this being used in a drone or a military vehicle for example and identifying more specifically targets for a military strike reducing collateral damage or properly identifying where a specific target is inside a building or a compound for a precise strike.
Also technology such as this could be used for burglars or robbers just pull out a router and you can scan a house to see if it’s empty or not reducing the chances of getting caught or any disturbances with the people living inside. ( I know this can be also done by just following a family on social media and when they start posting of their vacations go rob them but this could make a more efficient and fast method)
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And due to the fact that wifi singlas go through hard objects these detection algorithms could be used for other nefarious purposes such as detecting keyboard inputs making, and other types of fine movements and interactions with physical objects. Which pose a major security risk for sensitive information, but also a great breach of privacy if a system such as this is implemented in a public space without the consent of the people who are around or close to any router or sensors with these systems implemented.
Another usage is that there are already studies showing that you can identify people by their gait (they way the walk) almost like a fingerprint (assuming no injuries happened affecting how you walk) which means this could be coupled with Wi-Fi Vision systems to cross chekc and identify certain people or track and register their gait for future purposes where a government or a company could identify you in a public space just by the way that you walk.
So in a nutshell..
We can see the Impact that AI can have on already interesting technologies that weren’t so incredible or haven’t reached it’s full maturity to be implemented and developed but how an AI system can be trained and implemented alongside technologies such as this to create and elevate it to the point of being commercially viable with some very interesting (and scary) applications.
Hopefully these applications are implemented and regulated in a way that benefits people instead of being used and abused by nefarious actors wanting to track down and erode more and more the personal security and privacy of people. Hopefully when these systems start rolling out civil society and policymakers can work alongside to help funnel this into a cohesive and positive technology instead of letting it loose without any control.
So yeah Wi-Fi Vision can be a very disturbing superpower, oh and we can download it from GitHub and start tinkering with it ti will probably not be half as deep as the uses seen here but if you’re interested go on play with it, and let me know if you ever found out something cool.
Addendum: Just talking with one of you who answered me through instagram (remember to follow) This could be in a short time be implemented in Augmented reality glasses not necesarily needing that much of a heavy equipment and could be somewhat of a small incursion into transhumanism using Wi-fi Routers… huh, fun stuff…