When the walls have ears, they can listen to your breathing and heart rates

mit researchers device lets walls track vital signs heart rate monitor
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock
What if the walls of your home were monitoring your every breath and heart rate? It might seem a little too sci-fi right now, but MIT researchers are working toward technology that will make this notion a reality. Their latest innovation is called Vital-Radio, and it can be seamlessly implanted into the walls of any smart home, according to the researchers’ paper, “Smart Homes that Monitor Breathing and Heart Rate.”

This might not be a concern for you in your everyday life, unless you have an infant or an elderly parent. These individuals could benefit from having their vitals monitored continuously when the baby’s sleeping or for your grandmother who lives alone.

The researchers claim that Vital-Radio has a 99-percent accuracy rate. Users can be up to one room away, or eight meters, from the technology. Additionally, the vital signs of multiple people can be monitored all at once; it isn’t just Grandma Edna or baby Billy who will selectively benefit from Vital-Radio.

Vital-Radio works by using low-power wireless signals to record movements such as exhales and heartbeats. The signals bounce back to the technology, which measures the amount of time it takes for them to return. The technology is also smart enough to isolate reflections that may come off of furniture and other objects within a home. Eventually, it may be able to adjust the environment based on your vitals. Imagine a soft, calming hue and a classical tune kicking in during periods of high stress.

“If non-intrusive in-home continuous monitoring of breathing and heartbeats existed, it would enable healthcare professionals to study how these signals correlate with our stress level and evolve with time and age, which could have a major impact on our healthcare system,” wrote the authors of the report.

Though they actually built a working prototype, researchers still have a long way to go before any of this technology is available to consumers. Still, walls already support your house; one day, they could give your vitals a boost, too.


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