back to article AI built to track you through walls because, er, Parkinsons?

AI systems can track the movements of people hidden behind walls by inspecting radio waves reflected off their bodies, according to a new study. The model dubbed “RF-Pose” starts off by transmitting low power radio signals that can penetrate through walls using a wireless Wi-Fi device. These waves bounce back when reflected …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Joke

    Yeah but...

    Can it detect a stick figure holding a bobcat ?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but...

      Well, that had nothing to do with IT or the article subject but definitely worth an upvote.

      On the subject of the article, I am increasingly of the opinion that many researchers need a daily slap to wake them up and make them think about the possible consequences of their research.

      Fortunately in my house because of condensation problems all the walls are lined with tin foil.

      So far I can't find an argument for condensation on my head.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Yeah but...

        ...condensation problems... Right.

        And a good argument for condensation would be if you want to grow mould. But where's the tin foil hat icon?

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Yeah but...

        On the subject of the article, I am increasingly of the opinion that many researchers need a daily slap to wake them up and make them think about the possible consequences of their research.

        This... points out so much wrong with the world of research and "publish or perish". While the intent may be ethical, the results and misuse sometimes outweigh the advantage. There should be some sort of ethics assessment made before work progresses. And full disclosure on who's funding this. I can see a lot of government agencies that might be interested and then there's the miscreants...

  2. hplasm Silver badge

    Someone contact the Arisians.

    It's time for the Spyray Block...

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    What a time to be alive

    We'll be able to say we were here when Dystopia started.

    1. onefang Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: What a time to be alive

      "We'll be able to say we were here when Dystopia started."

      No, we wont be allowed to say such things, or even acknowledge the Dystopia.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using RF to monitor peoples movements through walls with their permission to detect illness, sounds great, I mean it's not like they could you know put the cameras in the same room or put sensors on the person and do the same thing only easier with a better success and accuracy rate.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Having an elderly relative who has had a number of serious bone-breaking falls but seems to be wilfully courting further disaster on a daily basis, having a reliable means of knowing when to summon another ambulance that doesn't depend on having the entire house under video surveillance would at first sight seem like a wonderful idea.

      And although it might be creepy that it is possible to find out who is in your house by means of radio waves, presumably it's not significantly more intrusive than watching who comes through the door.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Pfft

        it might be creepy that it is possible to find out who is in your house by means of radio waves

        It's dead simple to avoid detection, if it worries you that much. Just leave all your body's water outside before entering the house.

      2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Meh

        Bone-breaking falls

        Having an elderly relative who has had a number of serious bone-breaking falls but seems to be wilfully courting further disaster on a daily basis, having a reliable means of knowing when to summon another ambulance that doesn't depend on having the entire house under video surveillance would at first sight seem like a wonderful idea.

        This sort of stuff has been around for years, albeit without the new added artificial neural networkTM that seems obligatory these days as an alternative to any sort of statistical analysis (because that would involve actually thinking about the problem and gaining insight into it from the data instead of just pumping loadsadata into a neural network). See for example http://www.jpier.org/PIERB/pierb20/09.10022206.pdf

        As for detecting when your granny has fallen over, as opposed to having a sit down or crawl around, false positives are a big nuisance and false negatives a disaster. Neural networks need to be trained with a great many test cases. So unless you are prepared to push your granny over a few thousand times to generate the necessary training data, making it reliable is going to be problematic. Getting some poorly paid PhD student to pretend to fall over a lot is unlikely to work either, since real falls don't look anything like pretend falls.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Bone-breaking falls

          Getting some poorly paid PhD student to pretend to fall over a lot is unlikely to work either, since real falls don't look anything like pretend falls.

          However, most (if not all) universities have an almost limiteless supply of undergrad students who will genuinely fall over a lot...usually around closing time, and especially during freshers' week.

        2. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Bone-breaking falls

          Getting some poorly paid PhD student to pretend to fall over a lot is unlikely to work either, since real falls don't look anything like pretend falls.

          Also, a 20 something student is also going to have a very different gait and lifestyle to a middle-aged Parkinson's patient.

        3. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: Bone-breaking falls

          push your granny over a few thousand times

          It's not the act of falling you need to detect, it's just the difference between moving around and not moving around. Which, I agree, would probably rule out using students as test subjects...

    2. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

      EXACTLY!

      Parkinson's my big fat hairy arse.

      It's got military and CIA covert budget written all over it.

  5. ciaran
    Black Helicopters

    What do they use for reception?

    The emissions are generated by a "wireless Wi-Fi device" (a wifi repeater, is that what they're saying?) However they don't say what's being used for reception. I doubt you can generate those heatmaps using a normal wifi (MIMO?) interface.

    Expect this to appear in every Cop or Spy TV series starting next september...

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: What do they use for reception?

      >>Expect this to appear in every Cop or Spy TV series starting next september...<<

      Already there - Netflix Continuum

      Corporate police officer from 2077 has this wifi processing ability built into her outfit.

      As this system is already at around 10cm resolution I'd expect the TVs milimeter detail within 20 years.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: What do they use for reception?

        Have an upvote for the Kiera Cameron reference.

        Bingeing through my second watching even as we speak. :)

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Coming soon...

    Clothes that are 'stealthy' and don't let this [redacted] shit work.

    A good number of researchers need more than a slap in the morning. They need several kicks where it really hurts just to remind them of their responsibility to Humanity in general and not just to whichever mega corp that is funding their research. Just because they can does not mean that they should.

    BB nantually.

  7. PapaD

    More productive lives????

    “By using this combination of visual data and AI to see through walls, we can enable better scene understanding and smarter environments to live safer, more productive lives,” said Mingmin Zhao, first author of the paper and a PhD student at MIT. ®

    I don't want to live a more productive life, i want to live a significantly less productive life, one that maybe involves lots of travel, no money worries and the freedom to do whatever i fancy.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: More productive lives????

      I do hope some future super-evil AI doesn't pick up on the "safer, more productive lives" bit and turn the human race into batteries. Coincidently that sounds like the plot of some film from a couple of decades ago.

  8. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Prototype for proving theory

    This system needs a visual reference to build the start point for learning about movements.

    How about this for V2.

    Use ultrasound to build the 3D area model (a small group of these transmitters in the area will be needed) and the same small box can contain the wifi and push the raw data back to a central cloud for processing.

    As a side activity to warrant its shelf space have it also respond to 'Alexa / Google show me cat videos on the TV'

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Prototype for proving theory

      Why is Google Maps suddenly allowing me to go inside my own and other people's houses?

      1. Tikimon Silver badge

        Re: Prototype for proving theory

        "Why is Google Maps suddenly allowing me to go inside my own and other people's houses?"

        Because Google has eagerly embraced the Dark Side. They don't even pretend otherwise anymore!

    2. Flywheel Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Prototype for proving theory

      Use ultrasound to build the 3D area model

      I think you'll find that's already taken care of...

      https://gizmodo.com/roombas-next-big-step-is-selling-maps-of-your-home-to-t-1797187829

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Tinfoil sales to soar

    Tinfoil is your friend here.

    It can be very effective. We recently opened our nice new community shop, state of the art environmentally sound design etc. And because Welsh slate costs a fortune, a black corrugated iron roof (looks much nicer than it sounds - and the 10kW solar PV panels just fade into the background).

    But... we also have foil layers on the wall insulation. And a thin metal layer on the triple glazed windows.

    Coudn't work out why we had absolutely no mobile reception inside, but 3 bars of 4G outside the front door.

    We'd built our own Faraday cage! But it's lovely and peaceful in the cafe. None of this "I'm in the cafe. I SAID, I'M IN THE CAFE"

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Tinfoil sales to soar

      But, if the transceivers are hard wired to transmit the data outside the Faraday cage, then you're still open to monitoring.

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Tinfoil sales to soar

      Ah, memories of the Windmill pub, Chipperfield. Not sure how they managed it, but mobile signal would drop to zero as soon as you entered the bar. the landlord took quite a few calls on the fixed landline along the lines of 'Who? No, haven't seen him all evening', often followed by 'Bill, June just called again'.

      Happy days.

  10. NanoMeter

    Dystopian future

    Everything is ready for a fine dystopian future. All the dystopian tropes from movies and books seems to become true.

  11. Mystereed
    Black Helicopters

    So the weapons systems

    or at the least the building blocks for them are all starting to come together?

    Add this to the Slaughterbots (https://autonomousweapons.org/slaughterbots/) and they will know just which wall to blow a hole in to get to us :-(

    They aren't real yet in case anyone gets immediately worried. Maybe we all need to practice crawling around on all fours like a bobcat so the AIs will ignore us?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong type of wall

    Since it isn't mentioned I think we need to know the type of wall they are getting their pictures through.

    I assume they expect wood frame with plasterboard surfaces - typical modern construction. What happens when they encounter 1 meter thick solid stone walls or walls with metal cladding or indeed ant wall different to the usual modern construction. They did test those types of walls I hope before their song and dance act.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Wrong type of wall

      Talking about reflections and stuff it is clear they are talking about doing this from INSIDE a structure, so meter thick stone walls on the outside of a building aren't a problem - I assume few buildings have those on the inside?

      Doing this from the outside would a problem even for modern construction, since in the US except for cheapest possible construction that ignores efficiency it means reflective foil wrap on the entire envelope of walls and roof except for windows and doors - and the windows are likely low-e glass with a metal layer, and most doors these days are foam filled steel. And people wonder why they get such terrible cellular reception in their new house when its 5 bars in their backyard...

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Wrong type of wall

        "meter thick stone walls on the outside of a building aren't a problem - I assume few buildings have those on the inside?"

        Funny you should say that. When my parents bought their first (and last) house in Havefordwest back in the 70s, every wall, interior and exterior, was 2'6" (or thereabouts - medieval construction wasn't, apparently, a high precision system) thick and comprised very irregular blocks of stone held together by what appeared to be crunchy, granular mortar and a lot of hope,

        My father's renovation and rebuilding efforts led to 'interesting times'.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Wrong type of wall

          The nice thing about 2'6" interior walls is that when you renovate you can greatly enlarge your interior space :)

        2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Wrong type of wall

          very irregular blocks of stone held together by what appeared to be crunchy, granular mortar and a lot of hope,

          Obviously very effective hope (and lime mortar) - it's lasted for centuries!

          My house is similar. 200 years old, 18" thick stone walls, and not always even lime mortar. When I was doing some work I found that the interior side of the wall was held together with mud and horsehair. I just slapped some plasterboard over it and carried on! Floor is slate slabs on earth, and foundations? What are they? Good for another few centuries though, unlike the average modern build.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Wrong type of wall

      Since they mentioned classrooms it was most likely in some Uni building. Indoors with no insulation in the inside walls. Very few researcher ever venture out into the real world.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tin foil hat signing in

    Easy electromagnetic shielding of rooms can be achieved with "frequency selective surfaces". You get those by placing periodic patterns of metallic thingies on the walls you want to shield.

    Squares with a side of 3 to 4 inches should do it in the microwave band. Cover the area leaving a few inches between the squares and then the bad AI cannae see you.

    Phew!

  14. Tikimon Silver badge

    JAMMING TECH, PLEASE

    Where are the geeks knocking out RF and IR jammers for our homes and cars? We need an active jammer, not just random radiation. Shouldn't be hard to project ghost images, like submarines do with sonar. Fill your home with a dozen ghosts, and which signal is you now? Have the unit merge your track with a ghost now and then to confuse their find-the-human algorithm. The lovely thing there, is that your widget could project ghosts when you're not even there.

    One each for home and maybe workplace, another for the car should do it OK, get to it lads!

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: JAMMING TECH, PLEASE

      Shouldn't be hard to project ghost images

      Imagine a projector in the centre of a room. If you want to project IR images, you'd have to heat several human-sized patches of wall or furniture to 37C. Think about how focused the beam would have to be to draw out even a rough image, and how powerful the projector would have to be to get a scanning beam to heat that area and keep it at the right temperature. Given the inevitable inefficiencies in the system, I think the air in your room would be very toasty by the time you got home.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019