You Can't Hide: New 'Intelligent' Radar Will Replace Guards, Cameras
CREDIT: Man holding gun image via Ostill | Shutterstock
Fog, rain, the dark of night and even concrete walls won’t be sufficient cover for stealth humans subjected to future radar security.
A new radar system can distinguish you from an animal and identify your actions thanks to a catalog of signatures for common human activities. Grown from anti-terrorism research, the radar will let surveillance, military and law enforcement units see inside buildings and across vast stretches of land without the aid of cameras or even guards.
"Radar has a very long history; usually, the older radar tried to detect some targets including airplanes, battleships and even vehicles. Nowadays our interest has [changed] to the human," said researcher Young Kim at California State University in Fresno. "The unique advantage of radar is its capability to penetrate obstacles. If a human is behind bushes, [a] camera would not be able to detect him, but the radar can."
Walking, running, standing up, standing still, jumping, lying, punching and crawling, each possess a unique radar signature that can be correctly identified about 85 percent of the time. And even breathing can be detected using the radar, scientists discovered.
Different ground surfaces (such as soil, grass and concrete) ensured consistency in the extracted signatures in tests that included the use of a wooden house as an obstruction, researchers wrote in a paper published in Radar, Sonar & Navigation in March 2012.
Like the radar used in airport body scans and hospital CT scans, the system relies on the shapes of refracted echoes to classify its target. Unlike these systems, the radar used by researchers does not generate images and can detect moving targets quickly, Kim said.
That’s because the system uses ultra wide band radar, a form of radar that has yet to see commercial use and operates in very short bursts up to very high frequencies (up to 3 or 9 gigahertz GHz).
While other research groups have succeeded in using radar to sweep buildings from the outside and creating 3D images of desks and walls, humans only appeared as moving blurs, Kim said.
Eventually, the radar system could be used to replace patrol officers, not just cameras, in borderlands like the U.S.-Mexico divide, Kim said.
"The border is very wide, so there is no way to monitor those borders using the human eye or other system," he added. But an ultra-wide band radar system can work “24/7 at [a] border system and is a very efficient system for border patrol."
Though it requires higher power than a conventional security camera, the radar's ability to reliably monitor a location day and night makes it more useful than optical security systems, Kim said.
When directed at trespassers, terrorists or soldiers inside a building, "knowing the human activities of the people we can increase the situational awareness . . . and reduce casualities," Kim said.