In the age of IoT and smart homes, the world is clearly moving towards relying on more artificial intelligence and increasing connectivity between devices. At the moment, we have more and more devices that we can connect to the internet, and more and more are coming every day. It is also related to the fact that machine learning algorithms are used in more and more applications and of course more and more IoT devices. All this is aimed at improving our life comfort and work. But are we sure? Do we realize the amount of data that is being collected for artificial intelligence? Doesn't it involve a partial reduction of our privacy? In this article we will take a closer look at what the new idea of Wi-Fi capabilities looks like.
New WiFi capabilities - Doppler imaging
It is worth starting by explaining what Doppler imaging is. Well, it is a technology that uses Wi-Fi signal to generate image data. The collected data, in turn, is properly interpreted to gain insight into the movements of people and objects in a specific environment. In order to monitor data in a specific environment, advanced sensors are required. Of course, the solution is to install multiple cameras in a given facility, but this also has its limitations. Above all, the cameras require good illumination and it is an additional piece of equipment that has to be properly installed and powered. And what is important! Cameras are often badly perceived (invasive) in terms of our privacy.
What is the Doppler Effect and what does it have to do with Wi-Fi?
Suppose there is an ambulance at a signal in the middle of the street, which of course everyone can hear. Its sound waves will propagate from that particular point, in every direction, with the same speed. On the other hand, if the ambulance is moving towards the right end of the street (relative to the diagram), the sound waves produced by the moving vehicle are collected to observer B and propagate more to observer A. As the ambulance moves to the right end of the street, its sound waves take less time to reach observer B and more time to reach observer A. The waves produced by the moving ambulance gather as it approaches observer B (at higher frequencies). These waves extend as the ambulance moves away from observer A. The observer then perceives a change in frequency.
What is the Doppler effect?
This phenomenon is also known as Doppler shift. It refers to the apparent change in frequency of any sound, water, or electromagnetic wave as a result of the source or observer. This effect is not due to a change in the frequency of the source and can be observed because there is a change in the relative velocity between the source and the observer.
This phenomenon is also seen when an observer moves instead of the source. The frequency at which the waves are received changes as they move closer or further away from the emitting object. It's also worth knowing that the Doppler effect is already used in countless applications, from medicine to astronomy.
And the icing on the cake.
Wi-Fi Doppler imaging
Then again. Wi-Fi Doppler imaging is high-resolution RF imaging that detects, depicts, and tracks the motion, behavior, and location of people and objects. It is a breakthrough technology in object detection and event recognition. This technology helps to accurately identify, track and classify the specific location and movement of people, pets and objects in homes, offices, public facilities - without the need for direct vision. The operation of this technology is very simple. Well, a specific Wi-Fi device collects Doppler and microdoppler signatures of moving objects (in high resolution), and then uses advanced signal processing and machine learning algorithms to accurately classify human postures and gestures. It classifies body postures, movements, gait and gestures. It can also detect falling, breathing, count people, and differentiate between adults and children.
Wi-Fi based technology
Based on standard WiFi packets and RF characteristics, Wi-Fi Doppler imaging operates in the 5GHz band (and in the future in the 6GHz band). It is also important to note that unlike other costly radar solutions, Wi-Fi-based technology enables solution providers to provide differentiated event recognition services to customers. All this is done without the need to deploy additional dedicated infrastructure or cameras, which are becoming increasingly intrusive and unwanted. Using only one device, the range and direction of a given object can be detected. Such capabilities can be used brilliantly for safety and security, energy management, elderly care, etc.
What are the imaging capabilities of Wi-Fi Doppler?
- Object Tracking - allows home and business owners to detect moving objects in their environment and determine their location.
- Object Quantification - allows you to track multiple objects simultaneously. This allows you to identify how many people occupy a specific space.
- Objecttagging - technology can help classify objects as adults, children, pets and objects.
- Classification of common body movements - technology can distinguish between different body movements and based on the activities performed, categorize them. For example, it can determine when a person is sitting, lying down, standing up or falling.
- Respiration detection - great for elderly care facilities. The technology not only detects but also measures respiratory rate.
- Gesture recognition - imaging technology enables Wi-Fi routers to identify and classify gestures.
As I mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi Doppler imaging has a number of applications in everyday life and finds its way into virtually every area of our lives. One of the key applications of the technology is elderly care. By adding machine learning functionality, the system can predict deterioration in health and sleep disturbances, for example. The technology can also monitor the respiratory rate of people who are sleeping. In turn, caregivers, or family members, can be notified of changes. Emergency situations such as a fall or a slip are immediately recognized, and the alarm is transmitted to the appropriate people, allowing for a quick and effective response.
WiFi Doppler imaging also contributes to security in our homes. The technology can detect motion, distinguish between animals and people, and can also filter out traffic from neighboring homes (geofencing). You can also create a more comprehensive intrusion detection system at night when household members are home by using smart zones and limiting intrusion detection to the perimeter of the home only. Comparing this to standard security technologies that are based on PIR sensors, WiFi Doppler imaging, is a huge leap in technology. No professional installation is required, as well as routine battery replacement.
In the era of smart homes and IoT, this technology will also excel. With Doppler imaging, you can determine if people are sitting in front of the TV or not. Additionally, you can determine whether a child or an adult is watching TV at the moment. A very interesting function can also be automatically switching off the TV decoder, lowering the resolution, in order to reduce the bandwidth consumption of our Internet network.
What's more! Wi-Fi Doppler imaging makes it possible to identify people who are still in the building in emergency situations. Especially in areas where there are no cameras e.g. toilets. With this technology, it is also possible to determine the number of people in public areas, thus enabling organisations/businesses to make optimal use of a given premises.
I think everyone will agree that the topic of energy saving is extremely important these days. Standard energy management systems usually require a number of devices to analyse energy consumption. In the case of Wi-Fi based Doppler imaging, you can track where people are and on this basis optimise the operation of intelligent lighting, thermostat and heating to better save energy.
Summary and conclusions
As a recap. Technological advancements are inevitable, even more so in the era of smart homes, IoT, and 5G network development. WiFi imaging based on the Doppler effect is one of the most interesting solutions that should be found in many, diverse applications. However, taking into account how the world is shaping up, we should ask ourselves whether such a solution does not limit our freedom. After all, such technology can be used both for those "good" solutions like saving energy or taking care of the elderly, but it can also be used for those "bad" purposes that can lead for example to tracking the masses. Generally it is a great technological solution and the above words are only my opinion, so I leave the conclusions of the above article to you, Dear Readers and users of wireless solutions. Because your opinion is the most important!
All doubts and suggestions are welcome in our online forum, as well as on our Facebook profile, where everyone can share their thoughts on this topic. You are welcome!