Wireless Systems that Extend Our Senses: Seeing Through Walls, Gesture Control, and Vital Sign Monitoring

October 20, 2016
2:50 - 4pm
Halligan 102
Speaker: Fadel Adib, MIT
Host: Fahad Dogar


Over the past decade, we have witnessed a growing interest in sensing the human body. Sensing our vital signs, locations, and gestures enables numerous applications in health monitoring, human-computer interaction, and smart environments. However, existing approaches for sensing the human body typically require the person to wear sensors and/or carry devices. Such contact- based approaches can be cumbersome and are known to be unsuitable for certain sections of the population, like babies and elderly.

In this talk, I will demonstrate how we can build software- hardware systems and design algorithms that can sense the human body without placing a sensor on the body. In particular, I will describe how we can use WiFi signals to sense motion through walls. I will also show how we can design systems that can accurately track the 3D motion of people from the wireless (RF) signals reflected off their bodies, even if they are behind a wall. Finally, I will touch on how these systems can also recover a coarse human silhouette behind a wall, trace hand gestures in mid-air, and monitor our breathing and heart rates remotely.

This approach to sensing through wireless signals has the potential to solve major problems that face modern society and has already found real-world usage. It is currently being used for remote elderly monitoring and fall detection by a recent startup, which is currently in the pilot stage. It is also being used in non-contact sleep apnea monitoring studies at Massachusetts General Hospital. Looking forward, this approach provides a new dimension for solving problems in various domains including smart homes, communications, health-care, and human-machine interfaces.

Bio: Fadel Adib is an Assistant Professor at the MIT Media Lab. He leads the Signal Kinetics research group, which explores and develops new technologies that can extend human and computer abilities in communication, sensing, and actuation. His research has been identified as one of the 50 ways MIT has transformed Computer Science over the past 50 years. His work has also been featured in major media outlets including CNN, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. Adib was named to the Forbes' list of 30 under 30 and MIT Technology Review's list of the world's top 35 innovators under 35. Before joining MIT as a faculty, Adib received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2016, and his bachelor's degree from the American University of Beirut in 2011.