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A new way to monitor vital signs (that can see through walls) | Dina Katabi

A new way to monitor vital signs (that can see through walls) | Dina Katabi


When I was a kid, I was, like many of you in this room,
very much fascinated by Star Wars, and what fascinated me the most
is this notion of the Force, this energy that connects
all people and all objects and allows you to feel people
that you can’t even see. And I remember many nights,
I would be sitting at home, just, like, concentrating and focusing,
trying to feel the Force, and I didn’t feel anything, don’t worry. (Laughter) And later in life, I became a scientist. I joined the MIT faculty
and started working on wireless signals. These are things like Wi-Fi
or cellular systems, and I did a lot of work in that domain. But then, again, this Force thing
kept nagging me, and at some point, I was just like, “Wait a minute, these wireless signals —
they are like the Force.” So if you think about it, wireless signals,
they travel through space, they go through obstacles
and walls and occlusions, and some of them, they reflect off our bodies,
because our bodies are full of water, and some of these minute reflections, they come back. And if, just if, I had a device that can
just sense these minute reflections, then I would be able to feel people
that I cannot see. So I started working with my students
on building such a device, and I want to show you
some of our early results. So here, you see my student standing, and here is our device. And we are going to put the device
in the other office, behind the wall, and we are going
to monitor him as he moves. This red dot is tracking him
using wireless signals. And as you can see, the red dot
is tracking his movements very accurately, purely based on how his body interacts
with the surrounding wireless signals. Pretty accurate, isn’t it? He has no wearables, nothing. (Applause) Now you might be wondering, how is it possible
that we can sense people and track them, without
any wearables, through walls, and the easiest analogy
to think about is radar. I’m sure many of you
have seen this picture. You transmit a wireless signal to the sky, it reflects off some airplane,
comes back to you, and you start detecting these airplanes. But if it were just radar, then we would have this 50 years ago. So it’s not just radar. There are two key differences. So the first difference, of course — you can’t, like radar, just blast
wireless power at somebody. You’re going to fry them
like if they were in a microwave. Don’t do that. So it means that you have to be able
to deal with very weak signals, and that means that your device
has to be very sensitive. The second difference is that,
unlike the sky, where it’s empty — if you are lucky, there is one airplane
that you can catch there. Like, look at the room and look how many objects
and people there are. So in indoor environments, the signal
not only reflects off the person, if reflects off the person,
off the floor, the ceiling, off other people around, and you get very complex reflections where the same signal reflects
off me and then off you, and then off the ceiling,
then off the floor. And you have to make sense of that mess. But we were lucky. We were coming at the right time. So two things helped us. The first thing is radiotechnologies
have evolved a lot, and over the last decade, radio technology
became much more powerful, so we were able to build
very sensitive radios that can sense weak and minute RF signals. The second thing: machine learning. So you keep hearing about machine learning and there was a revolution
of machine learning recently, in deep learning, and that allowed us to build
machine-learning models that can understand wireless signals
and interpret them so they would know what happened
in the environment. So if you think of it,
the radio is like the ear of our device and the machine learning
is like the brain, and together, they have
a very powerful device. So what else can we sense about people
using wireless signals? Sleep. Sleep, actually, is something
very dear to my heart, because my sleep is a disaster. (Laughter) So one thing is when you start working
on some physiological signal and you discover that yours sucks. (Laughter) So you can see why we can capture sleep, because the person walks and the device
sees him as he walks to bed, when he stops tossing around in bed, when he steps out of bed, and that measure of sleep
is what people call actigraphy. It’s based on motion. But it turned out
that we can actually get sleep at a much more important level. We can understand
the change in the brain waves that occur during sleep. So, many of you probably know
that as we go to sleep, our brainwaves change
and we enter different stages: awake, light sleep, deep sleep
and REM, or rapid eye movement. These stages are of course
related to sleep disorders, but they are also related
to various diseases. So for example, disturbances in REM
are associated with depression. Disturbances in deep sleep
are associated with Alzheimer’s. So if you want to get sleep staging, today, you will send the person
to the hospital, they put all of these
electrodes on their head, and they ask them to sleep like that. (Laughter) It’s not really a happy experience. So what if I tell you
that I can do the same thing but without any of these electrodes
on the person’s body? So here is our device, transmitting very low power
wireless signal, analyzes the reflections using AI and spits out the sleep stages
throughout the night. So we know, for example,
when this person is dreaming. Not just that … we can even get your breathing
while you are sitting like that, and without touching you. So he is sitting and reading and this is his inhales, exhales. We asked him to hold his breath, and you see the signal
staying at a steady level because he exhaled. He did not inhale. And I want to zoom in on the signal. And this is the same signal as before. These are the inhales, these are the exhales. And you see these blips on the signal? These are not noise. They are his heartbeats. And you can see them beat by beat. So I want to stop here for a moment
and show you a live demo. Zach is going to help me with the demo, and we’re going to use the device
to monitor Zach’s breathing. So this white box
that you see here is the device, and Zach is turning it on … and let’s see whether he breathes well. So we’re going to do exactly what we did
in the video with the other guy, so the wireless signal is going through, it’s touching Zach’s body, and it’s reflecting back to the device, and we want to monitor his breathing,
his inhale-exhale motion. So we see the inhales, exhales — so see, these ups and downs
are Zach breathing. Inhaling, exhaling. (Applause) So, he can breathe. (Laughter) Zach, can you hold your breath, please? OK, so now he’s holding his breath, so you see the signal stays
at a steady level, and these are his heartbeats. Beat, beat, beat, beat, beat. (Applause) OK, Zach, you can breathe again. (Laughter) We don’t want accidents here. (Laughter) OK, thank you. (Applause) So as you can see, we have this device that can monitor so many
physiological signals for you, and what is really interesting
about this device is that it does all this
without any wearables, without asking the person
to change his behavior or to wear anything
or charge anything special. And that got doctors very excited, because doctors, they always want to know
more information about their patients, particularly at home, and this is particularly true
in chronic diseases, like pulmonary diseases, like COPD, or heart failure or Alzheimer’s
and even depression. All of these chronic diseases
are very important. In fact — perhaps you know — two-thirds of the cost
of health care in the US is due to chronic diseases. But what is really interesting
about chronic diseases is that when the person, for example, has a problem that leads
to the hospital and the emergency room, this problem doesn’t happen overnight. Actually, things happen gradually. So if we can monitor
chronic disease patients in their home, we can detect changes in their breathing,
heartbeat, mobility, sleep — and we can detect emergencies
before they occur and have the doctor intervene earlier so that we can avoid hospitalization. And indeed, today we are working
with multiple doctors in different disease categories. So I’m really excited because we have deployed the device
with many patients. We have deployed the device
with patients that have COPD, which is a pulmonary disease, patients that have Alzheimer’s, patients that have depression and anxiety and people that have Parkinson’s. And we are working with the doctors
on improving their life, understanding the disease better. So when I started, I told you that I’m really fascinated with Star Wars
and the Force in Star Wars, and indeed, I’m still
very much fascinated, even now, as a grown-up, with Star Wars, waiting for the next movie. But I’m very fascinated now and excited about this new Force of wireless signals, and the potential of changing
health care with this new force. One of the patients with whom
we deployed is actually my aunt. She has heart failure, and I’m sure many of you guys
in the audience have parents, grandparents,
loved ones who have chronic diseases. So I want you to imagine with me a future where in every home
that has a chronic disease patient, there is a device like this device
sitting in the background and just monitoring passively sleep, breathing, the health
of this chronic disease patient, and before an emergency occurs, it would detect the degradation
in the physiological signal and alert the doctor so that we can avoid hospitalization. This can change health care
as we know it today, improve how we understand
chronic diseases and also save many lives. Thank you. (Applause) Helen Walters: Dina, thank you so much. Thank you too, Zach. So glad you’re breathing. So Dina, this is amazing. The positive applications are incredible. What is the framework, though,
like the ethical framework around this? What are you doing to prevent
this technology from being used for other, perhaps less positive
types of applications? Dina Katabi: Yeah, this is
a very important question, of course, like, what about misuse, or what about, I guess you could say,
about the Dark Side of the Force? HW: Right, right. (Laughter) DK: So we actually have technologies that prevent people
from trying to use this device to monitor somebody without their consent. Because the device understands space, it will ask you to prove,
by doing certain movements, that you have access to the space and you are the person
who you are asking the device to monitor. So technology-wise, we have technology
that we integrate to prevent misuse, but also, I think there is a role
for policy, like everything else, and hopefully, with the two of them,
we can control any misuse. HW: Amazing. Thank you so much. DK: Thank you. (Applause)

Comments (100)

  1. Pretty impressive surveillance device, e.g. for real time tracking of motion and number of people going through a passage. It can be super useful where you don't want to use a camera.

  2. Hey, I really appreciate the effort it was very well presented as well, but one question is what if there are two people in the same room, I mean you said it has a brain but how does it differentiate one person's breath from the other especially if both are standing in front of the wall; otherwise fabulous job. 👍👍

  3. Fascinating indeed! Thank you.

  4. not quite sure what to make of this. This "white box" looks like a fake. They are not showing the device. This is why I think it is played. Thunderf00t, where are you?
    I mean first she talks about signals bouncing of objects and many people in a room, etc. Then one guy can sit on a really open stage infront a box and the device will automatictly pick up the signals of the one person, without any disturbances from the audience, sound equiptment, etc.

  5. in my opinnion,the device's functionality looks more like a tri-corder from star trek
    if in the future the AI can differentuate one desease from another,then the tri-corder and its lager brother,bio beds,will be a fact

  6. It's a bit ignorant to assume that some hand gesture gimmick will prevent misuse. If this is just an antenna array with a neural network to filter out the desired signal, then anyone can do it.

  7. This will be used by the military to target people inside buildings and cover.

  8. Saw the title and thought of pulse from rainbow six siege

  9. Wait until government gets a hold of this and uses it to monitor their slaves.

  10. Can something like this be combined with machine learning to enhance lie detection??

  11. I wonder whether signals from other devices can interfere with yours? Personally for me, it seems not safe if it's so

  12. Sounds like a major invasion of privacy. Amongst many other violations.

  13. Garbage left wing faux intellectualism.

  14. So we can kill them.

  15. Another good tech for crowd control.

  16. Where can i find build info about this device for home use … Raspberry pi ?

  17. Would like to have this for my mother . After being hospitalism

  18. Great idea, not ted talk content though.

  19. Eeeelon, there is a lifesign detector for your spaaceshiiiiip! wall bursts

  20. The looking through barriers tech is really cool and has been worked on for a while using other methods, but being able to tell if some one is dreaming, when they breathe, and measure their heartbeats remotely is some seriously Sci-Fi level tech.

  21. She said that it could work with obstructions in the room, then both of her examples were people either moving slowly along a path or not moving at all while being in the wide open. She didn't mention if other wireless signals effected it (like WiFi), and her answer for the ethics of it basically said that there were no preventions built into the tech, just part of the software used in it requiring specific movement (which could be done when a person isn't home). Also, this likely costs way more than just using a camera or on-person device to measure these sorts of things.

    It might be novel, but it doesn't seem practical or ethical (and it would be basically the same as always having a camera on you).

    Also, it can't distinguish between people as they only had one subject at a time.

  22. Rambling, hard to understand, where is the simple synopsis with the gist of this new tech?? Time is a precious commodity so use a legible power point with the highlights so we can move on!! As always, 3 minutes of info in a 20 minute chaotic, nonscripted “you are accessing to the space and of you are hopefully with the two of them you are…”…. WTF??????!!!!!

  23. Cadê a tradução automática para Português?

  24. Great talk! but i have few questions, how it can differentiate between each user? and can a single device be used on multiple user? and what the range of the device?

  25. This device could be used towards good. Unfortunately, it will mostly be used (unrestricted) for nefarious purposes by this government. Namely, this dystopian device will simply become a perfected tool for use in the massive surveillance complex already being insidiously imposed on the human population by world governments. The so-called "medical" benefits that she is espousing, will mostly be accessible only to the rich and those who can afford health insurance that will cover its beneficial use. In the meantime, there still is no cure for COPD, and probably won't be anytime soon; because "cures" does not benefit the profit margins of big pharma.

  26. Horrible accent. Barely a minute and i've stopped watching

  27. It's like you have to make up new technologies for homes so this cannot be penetrated into a home and used to hurt people.

  28. seeing people through walls based on the reflections of the water in their bodies… Well you're made of water, but your clothes arent. If they can improve the resolution, which i assume they can and will, then this basically becomes the classic pervy xray vision trope that lets one look into the girls locker room… well as if we needed another "oh god, what horrors will this bring" technology. Yeah she's doing it to advance medicine and all, but the broader applications for this are profoundly disturbing

  29. This gets nurses very excited.

    How does it affect rooms that have multiple patients in them?

  30. One hundred and eleven comments #TimePhoneHack #MyFriendMrLeakey

  31. Wow. How awful. NO privacy at all. And people will do this voluntarily. At first. Think about it you guys….

  32. wellbeing of the patient and reduce of costs.u cant put these on same sentence and expect people,patients at least, not so sure about hospitals though and in corporate usa more,
    to take u seriously. in canada they have a second phone state line apart from the emergency ambulance number where health doc experts give advises to patients at home on various health problems from a simple cold to more sinister situations and tell them what to do.from simple home remedies to when to get to pharmacy and when its time to get to hospital or a doc asap. without this bs where the valuable and necessary communication in the relationship between doc and patient is completely lost at the name of cutting expenses.in Canada they obviously have found a more humane,with good results and economical way to cut expenses all together.u dont have to reinvent the wheel here or fix what is not broken.but u can sure break it if u want completely.just my 2 cents and if some medical business finds this a good idea hope at least it doesnt spread out to the whole world like a virus.influenza is already more than enough

  33. Wonderful. Many Thanks Dina, for the Innovation. It's a Landmark breakthrough in the Healthcare sector.

  34. Stick that machine learning into the sky to learn the weather

  35. Better yet stick that machine learning on youtube comments

  36. 6:26 All those "crazy" people in mental institutions were right all along…

  37. 8:00 How far can we push this tech? Can we be able to read brain waves and interpret thoughts using machine learning?

    if so can you prevent crime using this and read all thoughts of anyone whom is within any WiFi range?

  38. The science of this seems really cool, like how the water content of our bodies would interact with the radio waves.HOWEVER IT IS INCREADIBLY TERRIFYING. An AI allgorithm that can use wifi/radio waves that can see through walls and is already connected to the internet. WHERE IS MY TIN FOIL!!!

  39. I couldn't hear all her words and don't understand this too well. It sounds like this will happen in the future but is only in the initial stages. They use all those electrodes for a sleep study but I don't see from what she said that this technology can replace it now. It's great that it shows exhaling and inhaling but this doesn't replace the doctor listening to the lungs with a stethoscope or all the lung tests that can be done like breathing into a tube, etc. I guess if the machine is left permanently in someone's room it will show a continuous record of say breathing and will alert a change too subtle to produce symptoms. That's not going to result in an immediate attendance at Emergency and if the person goes regularly to a doctor, any significant change should be picked up in time to change the treatment if this is even possible.

  40. This is a good one

  41. Nice I think military will never use this technology, will be used only to save people from earthquakes and tornadoes for sure

  42. true StarTrek Tricorder incoming

  43. I wonder who will buy the tech, Google, Facebook, Amazon ? so they can "improve user experience" of course

  44. MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

  45. Oh boy this is gonna go wrong.

  46. Hi, i'm trying to drum up a few views to get my channel off the ground, rare audiobooks and interesting talks. Stay a while and listen 🙂

  47. Wonderful! One of the best talks I have seen.

  48. Данная инновационная разработка вселяет большие надежды! Здорово!

  49. Good, The star wars new trilogy sucks thou

  50. I worked on stuff like this and the hardest thing to do is to monitor the person when he/she is moving. I noticed when he got up the signal got all wonky. Even a Pulse Ox on the finger is susceptible to movement. Still this is pretty cool, all she needed to do was to take that signal of breathing and through some DSP processing and some transforms, you could separate out the heartbeat.

  51. can we make something like this to monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and the many other problems we face?

  52. I sense a disturbance in the force . Though pretty damn cool useful device

  53. Amazing and jaw breaking . I am a Lebanese Canadian composer and just subscribed to your channel !

  54. As amazing as this technology is – it scares me a little bit. Considering how the far right is gaining power in quieter a few countries right now, imagining what a authoritarian government could do with this… I don‘t really want to think about it. I hope, we‘re not heading towards a horror scenario like that, but honestly: Who knows?

    Besides that, it‘s incredible, for how many good things you could use that – just imagine recovering people after an earthquake or anything similar to that, finding people that got lost in the wild/on sea and many more

  55. This is scary. That feature is not going to stop many people using this to spy.

  56. Woo Hoo! Now I can worry about my toaster monitoring me and sending info to the government!

  57. Am I the only one who thinks this could be used to scan for lifeforms like in star trek

  58. The future is now old man

  59. Great innovation….

  60. I’m impressed, this is amazing!

  61. The biggest thing is that the applause was not recorded and that is the best achievement 👍👍👍

  62. WOW! amazing work, this technology will really help to improve a human life to the better extend in near future.

  63. military will love this technology. they always talk about curing the sick and feeding the poor. they lie.

  64. Sorry for waiting Dina take care God bless u ….R G Delhi

  65. Love dear take care

  66. 5g will be used to monitor the world. Do you honestly think governments won't break the laws they impose on others?

  67. Geez, tough crowd! This is amazing technology.

  68. your work relies on the same effects that are not conducive to human well being all research in to this is ignore or suppressed wi fi and 5g microwave phased array electromagnetic environment what benefit to the people.

  69. The technology is very interesting, and she did a great job presenting it. Though I couldn't help but wonder how badly the DoD or any number of organizations would want to get their hands on this. With how much data they can read off of it, from your heart beat, stages of sleep and level of breathing, I imagine it could be adapted to build traceable profiles for people. Big Brother is watching.

    I also hope it comes with force lightning as an added bonus. Just saying.

  70. Rather than the force in Star Wars, isn't this more like the medical scanner in Star Trek?

  71. only if she had shown the signal when someone farts

  72. Why people constrained themselves by applauding at certain moment?

  73. Current tech lie detectors could (and will) be refitted to using this type of device.

  74. This will change lots of things in Hospitals and Medicin, but I think the wider applications will be amazing… Search for survivors in natural disaster incidents for one.

  75. I always try to watch a TED talk; the titles sound really interesting and particularily useful, but every time I try to watch it, I will run away when I hear the introductory anecdote. Why on Earth do you need to do this? How on Earth does this help attract viewers?

  76. Big brother already uses this technology to monitor their targets. They do it without the person's consent.

  77. The marketing applications of this technology both fascinate and frigthend me!

  78. MIMO routers have been used for monitoring ( … "nefarious purposes") since the mid-90's. As usual civilian science is roughly 30 years behind military uses. You want to know what's in the white box? Probably something like a linksys WRTGL with replacement wifi chips to perform DSP and tinfoil to make it directional. Are you paranoid enough yet?

  79. You can sell a unit at hospitals. This is revolutionary!

  80. I'm Syrian and I'm very proud of you Dina, amazing technology

  81. This is by far 1 of the most frightening technologies I've ever seen developed by a scientist who could not be more naïve about what this will "really be used for." Especially when the government gets hold of it.

  82. Probably inspired by The Dark Knight movie

  83. no thanks. I'd rather sleep without any disturbing electromagnetic fields impinging on my body.

  84. Impressive! Could this be used to see into the ground, like metal detector? I keep thinking DARPA needs to hire Dina.

  85. Instead of using Mac, she is using Ubuntu, which is good. Also this tech is going to go into every cellphone. I am sure.

  86. Time to build some lead houses!

  87. Amazing technology. Where ould I find their papers?

  88. The most double edged technology I think I have seen in a long time. It really has some revolutionary applications and reaches. Like AI, robotics and so on, the law really needs to catch up with these developments and ensure the benevolent applications outweigh the darker ones. That this tech can do emotion recognition inside someone's home cannot have gone unmissed by the more repressive countries in the world, who may not be so interested in the (easily bypassable) user validation steps she mentions. On the other hand, the medical industry and emergency services will see huge leaps forward, especially combined with robotics.

  89. What's wrong with the audience?

  90. I would love to keep on top of this technology! How do we keep aware of the developments? I am astounded that you have achieved this.

  91. how do u isolate the rf signal with multiple people in the room and frequent movement? i.e.. using the device at home. Furthermore, we now can use devices like wrist watches to capture data. I sense the future is in this area not a device planted in a room.

  92. Its the Microwaves that are causing the illness.. YOU complete Dummy.

  93. Syria forever ♥️

  94. arriba essssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssspana carajo

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