Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a rather clever way of controlling your home appliances using standard WiFi signals and gestures. The technology, called WiSee, works by detecting minute changes in wireless signals when there’s movement in a room, and by using a custom router they have managed to identify specific gestures reliably enough to trigger pre-defined actions.
The big advantage of using WiFi signals is it removes the need for line of sight, which means you can control your devices from any room in the house where there’s a wireless signal. Most other home automation systems require direct line of sight between the controller and the appliance. There’s also no need to install additional sensors, since the gesture recognition is done via signal sensing on WiFi devices such as mobile phones and tablets.
Another big advantage of the technology is the fact that because it’s based on software rather than hardware, it could more easily be integrated into existing hardware at a relatively low cost. This suggests that we may see WiSee enabled devices appear on the market sooner rather than later if the technology pans out as expected.
The system also comes with a built in security feature, since you can program in specific complex gestures which will ensure that your neighbor won’t be able to control your home from next door. This startup sequence of gestures also tells WiSee that you’re ready to issue a command, which prevents unwanted actions occurring because of an inadvertent gesture.
The team has already optimized the technology so it can identify a set of nine gestures with an average accuracy of 94%, and research continues to improve the technology to cope with controlling multiple devices at the same device. One day we may be able to turn off the heating, dim the lights and switch off the oven with a simple wave of the hand from the door as we leave the home.