For years, we’ve been told that strapping a fitness tracker to your wrist is a great way to track your physical activity and fitness level. But researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have come up with a non-invasive, non-wearable way to do the same thing—and more accurately—using invisible wireless signals.
The team developed a new device called the WiGait, which looks like an antenna-less Wi-fi router mounted on a wall. It blasts a low-power wireless signal, which emits about one-hundredth the amount of electromagnetic radiation as a smartphone does, and analyzes how that signal bounces off a person’s body as they walk by to determine their speed.
Recently, there’s been more credence given to the idea that how a person walks can be used as a solid indicator of their health. And conditions like Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and even Alzheimer’s often result in symptoms that impair how a patient walks.
The WiGait sensors could be installed in individual houses, long-term care facilities, even nursing homes, and used to monitor how elderly patients are moving about, and how that’s changed over time, revealing how far a condition has progressed. But it could also reveal when a patient’s symptoms have improved, thanks to changes in medication, or a new physical therapy routine.
On second thought, maybe this isn’t such a great idea after all.