Radio Waves "See" Through Walls

IN THIS ISSUE SPRING 2010

Using Radio Waves to Track Peoples Movement

Radio Waves "See" Through Walls

Electrical engineer Neal Patwari of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City has found a way to put radio waves to good use. The new technology is based on the fact that humans absorb radio waves, an occurrence called multipath fading, which is why AM radios form static when people walk by them. While working on overcoming multipath fading, Patwari decided to look for ways that the issue could be employed positively. He found that radio transceivers which send and receive signals can track people’s movements behind walls, and that unlike visible light, radio waves can be detected in dust, smoke, and fog, even at night. The experiments started in 2007, but Patwari and his team of researchers were able to develop software that displays the approximate position of someone moving within a cordon of radio transceivers. Possible uses for the technology include detecting people trapped in burning buildings, spotting burglars or enemy soldiers, and controlling lighting or heating/cooling systems as people enter and exit rooms. The team is hopeful that this discovery will aid in emergencies, although a few small quirks will have to be worked out before the system is ready for commercial use

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This article appeared in the SPRING 2010 ISSUE, Click Here to Order

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