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A New Sensor to See Through Walls
The Walabot sensor board attached to a cellphone looking through drywall to find a hidden pipe.
Here the Walabot sensor board is attached to a cellphone, to look through drywall, to find a hidden pipe.

The Walabot is a new 3D imaging sensor that can detect movement and speed, see through walls, and analyze materials to tell you their composition.

While the peace dividend of the smart phone wars has benefited everyone, with cheap access to accelerometers, gyroscopes, and NFC sensors amongst other things. As Makers it’s actually fairly rare that we acquire new levers on the world, so the arrival of the Walabot development board is intriguing. Access to a new type of sensor, means new ways to make things.

We talked with Ofer Familier, a member of the Walabot team, about their new chip and the development board built around it.  The company is intending to take both products to market at the beginning of next year.

Based around a radar system with multiple antennas, and wideband frequency operation, the development board comes with 14 built-in Tx/Rx linear polarized wideband antennas operating from 3-10GHz. Using these multiple wavelength allows the sensor to not only make standard Doppler measurements for speed and movement, but also do RF imaging, and use relative permittivity measurements, carry out analysis of liquids.

In other words, the sensor can not only detect movement, and see through walls, but it can tell you how much alcohol is in your bottle of beer, or how much fat is in your carton of milk.

If you’re interested in picking up a Walabot development board, for the next couple of days, you can use the coupon code MAKERWALABOT to get a $20 discount off the preorder price of $249.

10 thoughts on “A New Sensor to See Through Walls

  1. If you want to know more about Walabot, check out Walabot.com or ask questions here and I will answer them. Malcolm Berman – Walabot Community Team Member :)

  2. does this have its own microcontroller or will it have ti interact with one … if so how would this be interfaced with things like arduino and Raspberry pi

    1. Device sensing distance is >7meter typical and subject to FCC regulation. Angular resolution depends on the antennas and frequency bandwidth used. Max bandwidth which can be used is 3-10Ghz, and the array aperture of a single board is 4 ants./7cm X 3 ants/9cm.

        1. Indeed, regional regulations for UWB vary. In Europe and some other domains, 6-8.5 GHz is available, with some other bands workable at reduced power. The impact is reduced distance resolution – angular resolution remains about same.

  3. For VR, will it be a made ready application that can detect movement and it’s possible to detect player in 360’deg? What the speed of frequently of sensor per second?

    What the distance it can be detected behind the wall?

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

View more articles by Alasdair Allan