Google on track to make first x-ray vision cell phone camera

Google on track to make first x-ray vision cell phone camera

The first stories about cell phone cameras seeing through walls like a comic book Super Hero appeared six years ago. Inventors are using radio waves rather than eye glasses to see through walls.

When can you buy the first one? Google may be the first.

In February, Eric Schmidt, pictured above, agreed to work for a year with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

Schmidt is a technical consultant for Google and its former CEO. He has a degree in electrical engineering from Princeton.

Schmidt said he has the freedom to decide what projects to work on. One of them is the x-ray vision cell phone.

“I hope it’s clear that I’m extremely excited about this,” Schmidt continued. “I’m ready to dig in.”

    Google's office is five football fields (three-tenths of a mile) from MIT, so “it couldn’t be more convenient,” Schmidt said. 

    Google map MIT.png

    To see through walls, MIT researchers use radio signals called "Wi-Vi" technology. "Wi" means two radio signals, one the opposite of the other. "Vi" means virtual intelligence.

    They program software to teach wireless devices to sense a person's movement, heartbeat, and breathing. Even from behind a wall. 

    The main advantage of this technology is that it can be used in small handheld devices.

    Dina Katabi is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. She also is lead researcher of the x-ray vision project. The Professor said:

    “We actually are tracking 14 different joints on the body. the neck, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists, the hips, the knees, and the feet, so you can get the full stick-figure that is dynamically moving with the individuals that are obstructed from you.

    "That’s something new that was not possible before.”

    In 2015, in a presentation to President Barack Obama, wireless technology could only track people looking like blobs.

    “You don’t want to send the police inside without knowing where the people are standing or where the hostages are,” Professor Katabi said. “If there is someone with a gun, where (are) they standing?”

    It is hoped an x-ray phone camera will be made practical for:

    • SWAT teams or soldiers storming into a building,
    • Firefighters and rescue workers looking for people in a burning building
    • Searching for survivors in a mine or building collapse
    • and in a home, assisted living or nursing home facility to monitor a patient's health

    MIT Professor Dina Katabi

    An eight-page technical report written by Professor Katabi and called "Through-Wall Human Pose Estimation Using Radio Signals" is linked here:

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is also known as the "Military Institute of Technology". 

    Its graduates have spawned thousands of tech startups for the CIA, according to Steve Pieczenik. He has served as Assistant Secretary of State to three Presidents.

    DARPA stands for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It is an agency of the Department of Defense. It has helped pay for research on thousands of projects at MIT, University of California, Stanford, Harvard and many others.

    DARPA's motto is "creating breakthrough technologies and capabilities for national security".

    Some critics say the motto should be changed to "We Spy on Absolutely Everybody".

    DARPA has a three billion dollar budget invested in 250 projects. That averages $12 million per project.

    DARPA is the agency that helped create the Internet, Siri and GPS.

    And the CIA? They have had a venture capital group called "In-Q-Tel" since 1999.

    Other universities have similar x-ray vision projects using radio waves. One is at University College of London (UCL). Another is at University of California, Santa Barbera.

    Karl Woodbridge is a Professor of Electronic and electrical engineering at University College London. On May 17th, he published a study called "Exploiting WiFi Channel State Information for Residential Healthcare Informatics"

    In 2012, Professor Woodbridge tested a device the size of a suitcase to see through walls.


    The University of California, Santa Barbera, has been using robots or drones to see through walls using radio signals. 

    It takes a robot a minute and a half to see where shapes of objects are behind brick walls. The robots can also identify the object as wood, metal or human.

    At RK University in Rajkot, India, researchers Gaurav K. Nanani and Kantipudi M V V Prasad, are also studying radio signals to detect objects through walls.

    Both work for RK University.

    Gaurav K. Nanani is a research scholar in Electronics and Communication. 

    Kantipudi M V V Prasad is an Assistant Professor in Electronics & Communication.

    They wrote "A Study of WI-FI based System for Moving Object Detection through the Wall". It is linked here:

    They concluded that Wi-Vi systems was better than other radio signal systems because of its clarity, compact size, and high accuracy. 

    Professor Dina Katabi at the MIT Technology Day symposium on June 9th. She discusses health care applications using x-ray vision software.

    She said, “We’ve seen that monitoring patients’ walking speed and ability to do basic activities on their own gives health care providers a window into their lives that they didn’t have before.

    “A key advantage of our approach is that patients do not have to wear sensors or remember to charge their devices.”

    In a report released yesterday, prototypes are being developed for soldier's helmets and night vision goggles.

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