Have you ever tried to know the process behind the security of public places like airports, banks, etc.? We all know that we go through a metallic door and then the scanner makes a loud noise if there’s any metallic object or prohibited object in our possession. We have also seen military dogs that are trained to detect chemicals and bombs, but what is the technology behind it?
More so, is there any more sophisticated strategy to it and how can it be applied? This is a very pressing question and this is what we shall devote this post too; an exposition of a new technology that uses Wi-Fi to detect weapons, bombs, and explosive chemicals in bags.
In order for you to also better appreciate this technology, an overview of some of the other previously used technologies will be discussed. This will cover the detection by mass spectrometry, differential mobility, x-ray diffraction, laser-based detection, electric field tomography, etc.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Existing Systems to Detect Harmful Materials
At the moment, most airports, shopping malls, and financial institutions use X-ray or CT scanning technology when a bag is being scanned to check for suspicious items. The drawback to this strategy is that it is enormously expensive and cumbersome to follow through with. If the area is large enough, it becomes almost impossible to carry out effectively.
Some other security teams check the bags by hand. This is not the safest means of checking (for both the guards and the people in the vicinity), neither is it the most effective. Manpower is always needed to extend the capacity and to carry out as many checks as possible.
Wi-Fi to Detect Weapons, Bombs, and Explosive Chemicals
When we think of Wi-Fi, we think of a way by which we connect to the internet and make use of our smartphones and personal computers. But this Wi-Fi is slowly emerging as a technology that has immense potential and will prove to be extremely useful in keeping us safe in public places.
The Rutgers University in New Brunswick recently released a peer-review study which proposed that ordinary Wi-Fi can be used to detect weapons and bombs. The results of this finding, as well as the novelty and importance, led to this paper winning the best paper award at the 2018 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security.
Wi-Fi Bomb Detection Device
How Does It Work?
The research paper showed that most objects, especially those that can prove harmful to us, contain either metals or liquids. The good thing about this is that the materials interfere with Wi-Fi signals and researchers can detect any interference and then act on the information received.
And it has also been proven that the bags being used to transport these harmful objects are made of materials like fiber and paper. Remember that these materials are such that Wi-Fi signals pass through with ease, making the operation seamless.
The Results of the Study
Hence, for the study itself, a Wi-Fi weapon detection system was built and the aim was to use it to analyze what happened to Wi-Fi signals whenever an object was in contact. To demonstrate how it works, they used a number of objects and bags; 15 different objects and 6 different bags. In the test the researchers carried out, it was observed that it could distinguish harmless objects from harmful ones 99% of the time.
It was also seen that about 90% of the harmful objects were identifiable, identifying the metals 98% of the time, while the liquids were detected with a 95% accuracy. Another important finding is that the location of the object mattered. If it was placed in a standard backpack, the accuracy is about 95%. If, on the other hand, the object was wrapped before it was put in a bag, the accuracy reduced to 90%.
If you look on the internet now, you’ll realize that the market for this is quite large and the potential is also huge. In fact, several news outlets are circulating the same news content, talking about this new technology. One thing we can glean is that there’s room for improvement.
For example, the research team aims to improve the accuracy of the system so that the shape of an object can be better identified and also, the volume of liquids in a bag can be better identified. Hopefully, this would become a standard security measure at outdoor events.