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Scientists Are Getting Eerily Good at Using WiFi to 'See' People Through Walls in Detail

The signals from WiFi can be used to map a human body, according to a new paper.
Samantha Cole
By Samantha Cole
January 17, 2023, 11:50am
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Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University developed a method for detecting the three dimensional shape and movements of human bodies in a room, using only WiFi routers.
To do this, they used DensePose, a system for mapping all of the pixels on the surface of a human body in a photo. DensePose was developed by London-based researchers and Facebook’s AI researchers. From there, according to their recently-uploaded preprint paper published on arXiv, they developed a deep neural network that maps WiFi signals’ phase and amplitude sent and received by routers to coordinates on human bodies.


Researchers have been working on “seeing” people without using cameras or expensive LiDAR hardware for years. In 2013, a team of researchers at MIT found a way to use cell phone signals to see through walls; in 2018, another MIT team used WiFi to detect people in another room and translate their movements to walking stick-figures.
The Carnegie Mellon researchers wrote that they believe WiFi signals “can serve as a ubiquitous substitute” for normal RGB cameras, when it comes to “sensing” people in a room. Using WiFi, they wrote, overcomes obstacles like poor lighting and occlusion that regular camera lenses face.


Interestingly, they position this advancement as progress in privacy rights; “In addition, they protect individuals’ privacy and the required equipment can be bought at a reasonable price,” they wrote. “In fact, most households in developed countries already have WiFi at home, and this technology may be scaled to monitor the well-being of elder people or just identify suspicious behaviors at home.”


They don’t mention what “suspicious behaviors” might include, if this technology ever hits the mainstream market. But considering companies like Amazon are trying to put Ring camera drones inside our houses, it’s easy to imagine how widespread WiFi-enabled human-detection could be a force for good—or yet another exploitation of all of our privacy.
 
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It's been over 10 years but I remember a local news channel here in Utah had a story about a device I believe made at BYU that could do this.
It could be plugged into you outside AC outlet and map your house using the magnetic field of your electrical system.
It could even show people moving inside the home.
They were developing it for LE I think, it stood out because I was thinking criminals would love something like this.
When they admit they have any tech like this or wifi you can bet they have had it for awhile and most probably something even better.

I just wanted to add that I thought criminals at the time, now that term also means our own public servants.
Orwell only got the year wrong
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Have you read Neil Gorsuch's book, specifically the part where he talks about meta data and the fourth amendment implications of it?
Good to see you around Tom. :)

I haven't, but I'm oddly comforted knowing he's thinking/talking about it.
 
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