Track movements behind walls and darkness

A method of tracking of people’s movements behind walls or total darkness has been developed. Its inventors have come up with dozens of applications, from dealing with hostage crisis to taking care of elder people.

Radio Tomographic Imaging (RTI) is an emerging technology that locates moving objects in areas surrounded by simple and inexpensive radios. RTI is useful in emergencies, rescue operations, and security breaches, since the objects being tracked need not carry an electronic device. Tracking humans moving through a building, for example, could help firefighters save lives by locating victims quickly.

Joey Wilson and Neal Patwari from University of Utah tested RTI with networks of twenty-eight to thirty-four inexpensive transceivers placed on plastic tube poles. The transceivers used were those used in Zigbee networks, which link together home thermostats and other home or factory automation. The system was successfully tested indoors and outdoors as well as through walls.

The researchers have two studies of their method prepared, one due to be published in IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing journal and another one available at the preprint website

Patwari and Wilson see several applications of their RTI method: "By showing the locations of people within a building during hostage situations, fires or other emergencies, radio tomography can help law enforcement and emergency responders to know where they should focus their attention," they wrote in one of the studies of the method.

It can be also used in marketing to test how good ads are at attracting people’s attention, for home security alarms, for border protection, or to monitor elderly people in their homes. RTI can work where video cameras won’t, like in darkness or in fog. And it is also less invasive, since it does not allow the identification of a person, which is good for people concerned about their privacy, the scientists say.

Via - Russia Today

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