This Box Detects Home Intruders By Only Using Wi-Fi

A few years ago, researchers at MIT developed a new technology that could detect movement by measuring changes to wireless signals. This device, called Radio Frequency (RF) Capture, could in effect "see through walls" by detecting ripples in Wi-Fi or other wireless signals anywhere in a house. Now, the company Cognitive Systems has harnessed this technology to build a new kind of home security system called Aura. Instead of using cameras or motion sensors, Aura can detect home intruders by looking at how movement affects wireless signal.

At its most basic, Aura is a base station and a companion unit placed on opposite sides of a house. It can tell you, via a smartphone app, if there is movement in your house and how much. It can't, however, tell you what is making that movement, unless it's a person who has already registered their phone with the device. Aura can also automatically tell when you leave your home by detecting that you phone is no longer present. Then, it automatically arms itself though you can do that manually as well. When movement is detected, Aura will send an alert to your phone or set off an alarm.

Aura is programmed to recognize the differences in movements made by a pet or a human, or ambient movement like a fan blowing a curtain. Humans in a space change the wireless spectrum much more dramatically than other sources of movement.

A device like Aura may appeal to some people who are concerned about security but don't like the idea of pointing a camera at your bedroom. Aura, on the other hand, doesn't record or even "see" what is happening in your house—it only detects movement.

"There's no sense of privacy invasion," Cognitive Systems CEO Hugh Hind ssaid.

To make Aura, Cognitive Systems built a new kind of microchip, one that can detect a broad spectrum of frequencies, from 80 MHz to 4 Ghz. This novel technology could be very useful for manufacturers of other gadgets, and it's possible that Cognitive Systems' chip will outdo the security system it powers.

But that success has yet to be determined, since Aura has just started shipping to customers. But it's not hard to imagine that a device that can see movement through solid walls , all without using a camera, could change the landscape of surveillance and security.

Aura is available at the company’s website at $499/each.

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