With science evolving every day, things that seemed impossible yesterday are gradually becoming commonplace. Sometimes I look at science and there is one keyword that resounds in my mind: Transparency. Nothing seems to be a secret anymore, nothing is hidden, everything is crystal clear.
We build physical walls for various reasons, such as security and privacy. We don’t want people to get access to our everyday activities without our permission. However, today with a smartphone, privacy, and security tend to only be ideals.
“Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us.”
— Isaac Asimov
Imagine a world where you can see who is in the next room without getting in, a world where there are no more surprises behind a closed door. This is not science fiction, this is a reality we are all moving towards, and we need to be ready for it. In a recent article from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the author explains how researchers at the University of Santa Barbara, California, have developed a technique that helps people to “see” through walls and doors using Wi-Fi.
Yanzi Zhu and his team used the radio waves of the Wi-Fi network of a location to “observe” and they analyzed the deformations of the electromagnetic field created by the individuals present. Even if an application is needed to run the algorithm analysis, you don’t really need sophisticated equipment for this; A simple smartphone is enough to capture the Wi-Fi network of the place, without even having to connect to it!
Of course, one does not obtain images like in a video, but we can distinguish the people present and their movements. One thing is sure: without Wifi, the tech does not work, and the more Wi-Fi transmitters we have in the place, the more precise is the analysis. Yanzi Zhu verified this during the tests that he realized with simple smartphones (Android).
“While greatly improving our everyday life, [wireless transmissions] also unknowingly reveal information about ourselves and our actions.”
– Yanzi Zhu
One thing we should remember now is that Wi-fi comes with a privacy risk. In Africa here, we do not have a lot of free Wi-Fi zones, perhaps we should think further about it as this is something a lot of African countries are aspiring to.