MIT ‘Kinect of the future’ can track you through walls to within 10cm

October 15 [Tue], 2013, 15:40

You probably aren’t going to use MIT’s new x-ray vision tracking set up from another room, but you could if you wanted to. A reserach team at the institute has come up with a way to use three radio antennas to pinpoint your movements through a wall, and it’s accurate to within 10cm.

The MIT project is similar to Microsoft’s Kinect sensor in that it doesn’t require a user to carry around a transmitter. In its current form, however, it’s not quite as precise. In case you hadn’t heard, the Kinect 2. 0 is capable of reading lips from across the room.

It’s also not as detailed as Kinect. Right now, the Archeage Gold person being tracked is only rendered as a red dot. Future versions should be able to draw a complete silhouette, however. A Kinect sensor can’t, of course, perform its duties from a different room.

What MIT is showing off functions more like an improved version of the WiFi-based indoor location tracking systems that retailers are using to keep tabs on shoppers. The MIT system has one big advantage over existing trackers, though, which is that it can track people even if they’re not carrying a smartphone or other wireless device.

There’s one major hurdle that needs to be overcome before MIT’s “Kinect of the Future” can be commercialized. Right now, it’s only able to track a single person. There can be other people in the room, but they need to remain relatively still so as not to intefere with the detection and tracking. Clearly, that’s not going to cut it in a real world setting. The fact that it can detect when an arm is being raised, however, is something retailers can get excited about.

Current systems provide a decent look at traffic patterns in a store and can show where shoppers are pausing to take longer looks. MIT’s tracker could reveal when and where a shopper is actually interested enough in something to reach out and touch it.
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