Because wifi is so common these days, it’s easy to forget how powerful — and remarkable — it truly is. But this technology can do more than connect us to the internet; it can create images in ways we never imagined. German researchers have developed a new technique that allows them to create 3D images by relying on wifi.
This method of 3D imaging can capture 3D hologram images through solid barriers. It harnesses the wifi signal, recording shapes made when electromagnetic waves bounce off an object. The wifi scans through a room, going over the objects within it. Devices such as phones and computers act as transmitters.
The imaging system uses a two-antennae system, which allows it to create the three-dimensional holograms. One captures 2D images, while the other serves as a recorder for the signal. Once enough image data has been collected, it is fed into a digital reconstruction algorithm. The digital reconstruction is what truly sets this new holographic technology apart from past iterations. The reconstruction effectively rebuilds the objects into three-dimensional space.
“If there’s a cup of coffee on a table, you may see something is there, but you couldn’t see the shape. But you could make out the shape of a person, or a dog on a couch. Really any object that’s more than four centimeters in size.”
The ability to render 3D images through walls is still a work in progress, but scientists are convinced that they will be able to create even more detailed holograms as the technology progresses — and at faster speeds, as well. For that to succeed, scientists will need stronger antenna signals, and of course, wifi.
While a decidedly cool party trick, there are plenty of serious applications for this 3D holographic rendering technology. From keeping track of storage space and items to finding people trapped under rubble during disasters, this technology can do it all. Of course, that raises some significant questions about privacy; this technology could be easily used to spy on people, with just a few slight alterations. These and other implications will have to be addressed as this technology evolves and develops over time.