Researchers at Rutgers University have demonstrated how ordinary WiFi can easily detect bombs and explosive chemicals in public venues, according to a newly announced study. The Rutgers suspicious object detection system is easy to set up, reduces security screening costs and avoids invading privacy such as when screeners open and inspect bags, backpacks and luggage. Traditional screening typically requires costly specialized equipment and highly trained personnel for operation.
Credit: Data Analysis and Information Security (DAISY) Lab led by Professor Yingying Chen
"This could have a great impact in protecting the public from dangerous objects," said Yingying (Jennifer) Chen, study co-author and a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Rutgers-New Brunswick's School of Engineering. "There's a growing need for that now."
Experiments performed by researchers at Rutgers with 15 types of objects and six types of bags demonstrated detection accuracy rates of 99 percent for dangerous objects, 98 percent for metal and 95 percent for liquid. For typical backpacks, the accuracy rate exceeds 95 percent and drops to about 90 percent when objects inside bags are wrapped, according to Chen..
"In large public areas, it's hard to set up expensive screening infrastructure like what's in airports," Chen said. "Manpower is always needed to check bags and we wanted to develop a complementary method to try to reduce manpower." She went on to say that the next steps include trying to boost the already excellent accuracy in identifying objects by imaging their shapes and estimating liquid volumes.
Is this WiFi based detection system a “paradigm changer”? It certainly looks like it to me, as every public venue could be protected by this simple, low cost system once further verification and validation testing is completed.
What do you think?