The incumbent has developed a technology that consists of analyzing alterations in the distribution of Wi-Fi waves between devices connected to your home network to discover whether or not a room is occupied. Smart.
Your Livebox could very soon monitor your house or apartment… simply thanks to the Wi-Fi waves it emits. On the occasion of its Research and Innovation Fair, which is currently being held at its ultramodern campus in Châtillon, Orange is presenting some forty of its research projects. Among these, what the operator calls “Wi-Fi Sensing” immediately caught our attention, as it could soon be included in all its recent Liveboxes.
Wi-Fi Sensing, kezaco? “It’s about using Wi-Fi not to transmit data, but to detect characteristics of the physical environment” explains Muriel Le Bihan, Orange Lab project manager. Yes, the electromagnetic waves emitted by the Wi-Fi module of your box are never perfectly stable. Their course, their power fluctuate especially when they encounter obstacles… like you, for example! The irruption of an individual in a room indeed modifies the properties of the radio link (CSI, in the jargon) between a transmitter (your box, for example) and a receiver (any other device connected in Wi- fi).
And all of this can of course be calculated and analyzed. Orange researchers have thus taken advantage of these physical phenomena to develop a home surveillance solution that combines several advantages: it does not require any additional hardware – all recent Liveboxes should be compatible, at the cost of a simple software update. This technology thus makes it possible to avoid acquiring expensive cameras or presence detectors. But it is also less intrusive and therefore more respectful of your privacy.
Very simple operation
We were able to attend a demonstration of Wi-Fi Sensing in a living room reconstituted for the purposes of the test. Inside, a Livebox, a connected TV and a Google Nest Hub. As well as a specific router, which currently contains the software needed to analyze Wi-Fi frames. It’s not yet implemented in the box, but it’s perfectly doable wishes to remind Samuel Blarre, project manager smart home at Orange Innovation.
On the user side, a smartphone application allows you to define whether you are inside or outside your home, and to define the rooms to be monitored. The only constraint: each must house at least one device that actively exchanges data with the box. There is also a “live” view, which allows you to view spectrum disturbances in real time, and finally an “events” view, which offers a summary of all the movements recorded in each room. And it works: a demonstrator enters the empty room. Immediately, a notification appears on the smartphone. The system has detected an intruder, thanks to the slight disturbances in the Wi-Fi link recorded between the router and the Nest Hub.
AI at the helm
To make it work properly and avoid false positives, the researchers also used AI. ” To obtain correct accuracy, it is necessary to create a learning base and train an artificial intelligence algorithm that will make it possible to distinguish cases where there is no one from cases where someone is in the room. “says Muriel Le Bihan. The system is also precise enough to detect false intruders when you are not there, such as your pet or your robot vacuum cleaner!
Beyond security, Orange imagines other practical uses for the Wi-Fi sensing. Which could, for example, be used to intelligently adjust the heating and lighting of rooms according to the presence of members of the household, or even participate in home care assistance. “We can see the activity of fragile people at home, know if they are well, if they are out… We can even detect a fall, but this is an even more advanced use case, which requires more power from calculation ” contemplates Samuel Blarre.
Will this technology soon land in Liveboxes? ” It’s just an innovation project for now Orange reminds us. But our exchanges suggest that Wi-Fi Sensing has a good chance of being offered to the operator’s customers tomorrow. The work on the technology is indeed finalized or almost… Such a launch will obviously require the start-up of a big machine: validation of other services, design of an adapted commercial and marketing offer, etc. Michaël Trabbia, CTO and head of innovation, however slipped in to us that he would very much like to develop a beta test to deploy certain in-house innovations before their commercial deployment. Wi-Fi Sensing might just be one of them.