MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has pioneered a new radar technology which grants users the ability to see through walls. Primarily developed for military applications and usage, this potentially life-saving technology can also be used by emergency response teams and other search-and-rescue services in the future.
The device behind this technology is a nondescript cart, mounted with two rows of antennae and thirteen receivers as well as some computing equipment. All the equipment can be transported using this cart, making it ideal for rapid deployment.
The radar on the device functions like a normal radar; however, according to Lincoln Laboratory researchers John Peabody and Gregory Charvat, the innovators behind this technology, signal loss experienced by their radar is the least of their problems. The signal loss problem can be easily overcome by signal amplifiers which are cheap and readily available.
The main challenge was to build a meaningful situational picture from the data recovered from the signal amplifiers. This called for them to choose radar waves of suitable bandwidth as well as developing a computing system capable of real-time image processing. The researchers have successfully demonstrated their invention being able to image two humans moving behind solid concrete and cinder-block walls, as well as a human swinging a metal pole in free space.
The radar has an effective range of 18 meters from walls and provides a real-time picture of movement behind the wall via a video feed at 10.8 fps. The major limitation of the radar technology is its inability to detect stationary objects. This is due to its signal processing algorithms which see moving objects such as human beings and animals as a moving blob. The researchers are working to refine the images from the video feed, converting them into clean objects so that their invention is more user-friendly.