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WiSee technology detects your movements through walls, controls gadgets over Wi-Fi

Students at the University of Washington have created a unique way to control household gadgets with gestures using only a modified Wi-Fi router. The technology is called ‘WiSee’ and the team that created it hopes it will be used to control everything in your home in the future.

With WiSee you can in theory control any electrical device in your house using motion gestures, Xbox Kinect style. Furthermore, WiSee works through walls so you can turn your TV off in the next room by performing a specific gesture, for example.

Whereas Xbox Kinect uses cameras to gauge depth and your precise movements, WiSee uses the Wi-Fi spectrum to detect movements anywhere within the router’s range.  With custom software installed onto a router, WiSee then works to detect all manner of different arm flaps and body movements by recognising shifts and disruptions in the Wi-Fi spectrum. A simple arm movement causes a disruption of 10-20Hz and WiSee can then translate this into an action, for example; changing the TV channel or turning the music up.

The technology is currently still in testing and is likely a long way from being commercially available. However, the team behind WiSee is confident that it can be used to control everything from your heating to your TV, and the best bit is you only need a wireless router with custom software installed on it – a rather plain looking Linksys is used in the demo video below. New gestures can be programmed in to the WiSee software so that your router can recognise different actions and link them to new gadgets and tasks.

But what if you’ve got a house full of people, all moving around? WiSee can get around this by using a router with multiple antennas, assigning an individual antenna to a single person, although at the moment studies have shown that accuracy levels drop when multiple people are involved. Hopefully this can be improved, otherwise we’ll have TVs turning off and music blaring at random all because somebody in the living room is dancing around.

Still, WiSee is a very interesting and promising breakthrough that gives us hope that one day we can walk around the house performing ultra-cool gestures to control everything in it.

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