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Wi-Fi can be used to detect objects in bags and backpacks | Security

A new software capable of using Wi-Fi signals to track objects inside bags and backpacks. The technology, which is more than 90% effective and can be useful in combating terrorism, was developed by researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA. According to the scientists, the technique takes advantage of the large amount of radio waves used by wireless networks to create surveillance systems similar to those at airports, but cheaper.

For Yingying Chen, one of the leaders of the project, the objective is to depend less on the work of people in places that are too large. In large public areas, it is difficult to set up expensive sorting infrastructures, such as the one at airports. The manpower is always necessary to dispatch bags and we want to develop a complementary method to try to reduce manpower, details the scientist. The novelty could be used to improve the magazine of visitors in places like parks, museums, stadiums and schools.

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System uses only Wi-Fi signal to monitor bags and backpacks in public places Photo: Photo: Pond5System uses only Wi-Fi signal to monitor bags and backpacks in public places Photo: Photo: Pond5

System uses only Wi-Fi signal to monitor bags and backpacks in public places Photo: Photo: Pond5

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The system requires only a router with two or three antennas that can be integrated into an existing Wi-Fi network. The objective is to analyze the behavior of the signal in the environment as it collides and deflects objects in a given area. The software capable of interpreting this data and saying if there is any weapon or other dangerous object inside the bags and backpacks of the people who are scanning.

Tests conducted by the researchers with 15 types of objects and six types of bags showed that the system is capable of pointing out artifacts that represent a threat with 99% efficiency. The accuracy to identify 98% metal and 95% dangerous liquids. Performance drops to 90% when the object is wrapped.

While there are concerns about using the technology to invade the privacy of people in any environment with a Wi-Fi network nearby, developers believe the potential is important to prevent terrorist attacks. (The invention) can have a major impact on protecting the public from dangerous objects. There is a growing need for this today, explains Chen.

The study received the award for best cybersecurity article at the IEEE 2018 Conference on Communications and Network Security. In addition to the Rutgers University group, the work was co-authored by engineers from Indiana-Purdue University and Binghamton University.

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