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AI tracking motion through walls: Cool!

by Beth Divine 2 Sep 2018

Recent news reports state that Artificial Intelligence is being used in video games and similar simulated scenarios to track the movement of people through walls. The process uses Wi-Fi signals and RFID technology. Essentially, AI programs are shown multiple examples of people walking and moving around a home, and at the same time, the AI monitors the reflections generated in the frequencies of the RFID and W-Fi fields. To put it into a more understandable concept, imagine a home as being a swimming pool and the water is the RFID and Wi-Fi fields. As a person wades through the water, they can be seen directly – but they can also be tracked using the ripples that they send through the water. An understanding of each movement and the corresponding ripple (a dive creates a big splashy ripple, stealthy wading a very subtle one, and swimming produces a line of regular wavelets that show directionality and even speed) can help someone to tell where the person is an what they are doing – even when they can no longer see the person in the water any more.

In much the way described above, AI uses minute changes in the RFID fields to track where a person is and even tell what they are doing – and it can do it through walls! Are there any good reasons why this technology is being developed?

Well, yes. There are a couple of very good reasons to develop this technology and see how effective it can be. The first reason is that it can be very useful to law enforcement and for defence forces. Using this technology it will become very much easier for soldiers or policemen to assess criminal or enemy strongholds to make sure that their intelligence reports are correct, and to prevent ambushes from being enacted. If the technology is perfected, it may even be possible to invent ‘x-ray specs’ that will allow us to look through metal and stone walls and doors as though they were invisible or translucent.

The second reason is the one that the technology is in development for: it can help the elderly. At present, sheltered housing relies heavily on pull-cords and intrusive phone calls. For example, if a resident has a fall, he or she is expected to summon aid for themselves by pulling the communication cord that opens a phone call with a call centre of carers who will then come along to the rescue, summoning ambulances or medics as needed. A different what-if posits that if a resident does not come to breakfast one morning, they should receive a visit from the on-site carers who will knock and call out, before making entry, or who will open the phone line and ask if the resident is alright or if they are in need of assistance. This new technology will allow carers and social workers to discreetly peep at the resident and see if they are up and about, or if they do, in fact, need medical intervention.