Home automation, gesture control, and smart sensors have the potential to help disabled people and aging folks lead independent lives. Smart floors, cameras, body-worm devices, and motion sensors are some of the ways that people can be monitored inside their own home, but each has its drawbacks. They require a lot of investment and home rewiring, can affect personal privacy, or simply demand too much attention from their users.
Researchers at University of Washington have taken a different approach, harnessing the potential of at-home wireless networks to deduce what the people inside are doing. The system uses traditional wireless routers to detect changes in reflected WiFi signals, which turn out to have characteristic signatures that can be identified and correlated with specific gestures.