MIT device measures walking speed with wireless signals to detect health problems

The way a person walks, or gait recognition, has long been used for biometric purposes, but MIT researchers say that since how fast you walk is supposed to help predict health problems, they’ve come up with a device that can detect walking speed, and thereby potential health issues, without being as invasive as a surveillance camera, a Kinect, or even a wearable. The device is dubbed “WiGait” and it uses wireless signals to monitor walking in a “continuous and unobtrusive” way.

WiGait is a white, picture-sized sensor which can be mounted on the wall. It emits low-power radio signals – emitting about one-hundredth the amount of radiation of a cellphone – and then analyzes how wireless signals reflect off a person’s body. The team from MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) developed algorithms which can “distinguish walking from other movements, such as cleaning the kitchen or brushing one’s teeth.”

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