California legislators meet with telecom lobbyists at hush-hush event on eve of 5G bill

Timing is everything.

Last weekend, May 6-7, California Democrat Party Assemblymembers gathered for a lavish telecom industry fund-raising and lobbying event at Pebble Beach — the Speakers Cup. Hosted by the Speaker of the California Assembly – currently, Assemblyman Anthony Rendon –, it has been sponsored by AT&T for many years.

The timing was perfect. Though the Speakers Cup is an annual event, this year is special. The industry is eagerly anticipating the passage of its legislative piece de resistance – Senate Bill 649. Written by the wireless industry association CTIA, this bill strips cities and counties of most of their regulatory authority regarding “small cell” towers and essentially eliminates any obstacle to installing small cells everywhere. AT&T and Verizon are at the front, lobbying hard. Obviously, there is opposition from municipal governments and California residents, but they don’t vote on this bill.

The wireless industry hosted a similar event in March for California Senators in San Diego, called the Pro Tem Cup, hosted by the President of the Senate Kevin de Leon. Since that event, SB 649 has enjoyed easy passage and few obstacles through Senate committees, and the bill seems assured of an easy win when the full Senate votes later this month, unless there is a major hiccup.

If all goes well for the industry, SB 649 will head to the Assembly next. And the timely Speakers Cup greases the Assembly wheels.

It was virtually impossible to find out information about this year’s event. Perhaps California legislators became more secretive after the Los Angeles Times wrote an expose on the Speakers Cup in 2012 (see below). Contrary to popular belief, California is not the Sunshine State; legislators adopted rules years ago that keep their calendars, and who they meet with, secret.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office repeatedly said they couldn’t give out any information about the Speakers Cup, and referred questions to David Pruitt Consulting. That firm never responded. A local assemblymember’s office said they weren’t allowed to talk about it, saying it was not state-related but campaign-related. His office did say there would be no press conference. That isn’t a surprise.

Capitol Weekly ranked AT&T lobbyist Bill Devine as 16th in its top influential people in Sacramento for 2016.[1] For 2015, he was ranked 12th. [2]

Where does the public rank?


From the Los Angeles Times

AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento

No other single corporation has spent more trying to influence legislators in recent years. It dispenses millions in political donations and has an army of lobbyists. Bills it opposes are usually defeated.

April 22, 2012
|By Shane Goldmacher and Anthony York, Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — As the sun set behind Monterey Bay on a cool night last year, dozens of the state’s top lawmakers and lobbyists ambled onto the 17th fairway at Pebble Beach for a round of glow-in-the-dark golf.

With luminescent balls soaring into the sky, the annual fundraiser known as the Speaker’s Cup was in full swing.

Lawmakers, labor-union champions and lobbyists gather each year at the storied course to schmooze, show their skill on the links and rejuvenate at a 22,000-square-foot spa. The affair, which typically raises more than $1 million for California Democrats, has been sponsored for more than a decade by telecommunications giant AT&T.

At the 2010 event, AT&T’s president and the state Assembly speaker toured Pebble Beach together in a golf cart, shaking hands with every lawmaker, lobbyist and other VIP in attendance.

The Speaker’s Cup is the centerpiece of a corporate lobbying strategy so comprehensive and successful that it has rewritten the special-interest playbook in Sacramento. When it comes to state government, AT&T spends more money, in more places, than any other company.

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Alert: 5G bill being rushed through California legislature – SB 649

SB 649 is the “cell towers everywhere” bill. It mandates cell towers in the public’s right of way, and eliminates California cities’ and counties’ discretionary controls to regulate them. The Florida legislature just pushed through a similar bill, and it is waiting for the governor’s signature. SB 649’s author is Sen. Ben Hueso, with key support from Sen. Mike McGuire and Sen. Robert Hertzberg.

What distinguishes these “small cell” towers from usual cell tower projects on private property, is that these are

a) installed on utility poles,

b) installed in the public’s right of way

The public’s right of way includes the roads and highways, sidewalks and utility easements in communities — anywhere utility poles exist, anywhere there is a utility easement, for instance, in a back yard or side yard of a home of business. In all these locations, these cell antennas will be installed by carriers under this bill. They will be installed on most utility poles in front of people’s homes, businesses, schools, etc., due to the limits of the technology itself – the very high frequencies cannot go through obstacles. They will be installed everywhere. SB 649 also dictates that small cell towers will be installed on municipal infrastructure and also on municipal property where other commercial services are allowed.

CTIA – the wireless industry association – wrote this bill and provided amendments. SB 649 states: “The Legislature finds and declares that small cells…are not a municipal affair. The industry has repeatedly said they want to remove impediments – the public and local government rules. The bill does this, dictating that small cells must be approved anywhere. The only exception is on firehouses – an interesting side story.

This is eminent domain of the public’s right of way. There was no vote by the people for this new use. Most people don’t even know about 5G or the bill.

This is mandatory exposure to microwave radiation, and there is no informed consent.

5G frequencies are used by the military for active denial weapons systems which cause excruciating burning sensations. Though 5G will undoubtedly use lower power, it will be 24/7 exposure with cumulative effects. Research presented in Israel this year shows that the sweat ducts are perfect receptors for these frequencies, causing high absorption by the skin. The sweat ducts also have critical neurological sensors for other systems and organs including the heart. This is an experiment on the public with known hazards, including for wildlife, trees, and plants.

SB 649 violates the 14th Amendment and privacy rights for people who have been advised by their physician to avoid or reduce wireless radiation exposure and who are complying with that advice,

SB 649 also violates ADA. The bill itself states that these small cell towers have to comply with ADA, but they cannot comply. Where can a person who is disabled by electromagnetic and microwave emissions go when these are installed in their community and throughout California? How can a person travel freely and shop for groceries, go to the doctor, visit friends and family? With these installed everywhere, people who are electromagnetically sensitive will be unable to enjoy their homes. Their access to everything will be denied.

In many areas, these antenna arrays are already going up. In California, for example, San Francisco County approved these last year and has allowed them to be installed intensively. Other cities are approving them on a project by project basis, such as Santa Cruz. Santa Rosa invited telecoms to install them in the right of way, and Monterey rewrote its wireless ordinance to welcome them. Sacramento said it would trial 5G last month – in April.

There is no 5G standard yet, and much of the technology fantasized by industry doesn’t exist yet. This is a real estate grab. Some municipal opposition groups say this gives “favored nation status” to this industry.

SB 649 is moving rapidly through the California Senate. Its final hearing will be May 15 unless it is directed to the Health or Environment committees. Then it will be voted on by the Senate and move to the California Assembly.

The bill with links to its status and changes:

For information on the different aspects of 5G –

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Internet of Things security: What happens when every device is smart and connected to 5G, and you don’t even know it?

“The IoT devices of the future won’t go online to benefit you — you won’t even know that it’s an IoT device… [Y]ou won’t be able to restrict access to the internet because they won’t be going online through your Wi-Fi…”
Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure

From ZD Net

When IoT devices are everywhere, the security headaches just get worse.

By Danny Palmer
March 20, 2017

Will you bother updating your internet-connected toaster?

Billions more everyday items are set to be connected to the internet in the next few years, especially as chips get cheaper and cheaper to produce — and crucially, small enough to fit into even the smallest product.

Potentially, any standard household item could become connected to the internet, even if there’s no reason for the manufacturers to do so.

Eventually that processors needed to power an IoT device will become effectively free, making it possible to turn anything into a internet-enabled device.

“The price of turning a dumb device into a smart device will be 10 cents,” says Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

However, it’s unlikely that consumer will be the one who gains the biggest benefits from every device their homes collecting data; it’s those who build them who will reap the greatest rewards — alongside government surveillance services.

“It’s going to be so cheap that vendors will put the chip in any device, even if the benefits are only very small. But those benefits won’t be benefits to you, the consumer, they’ll be benefits for the manufacturers because they want to collect analytics,” says Hyppönen, speaking at Cloud Expo Europe.

For example, a kitchen appliance manufacturer might collect data and use it for everything from seeing how often the product breaks to working out where customers live and altering their advertising accordingly in an effort to boost sales — and the user might not even know this is happening, if devices have their own 5G connection and wouldn’t even need access to a home Wi-Fi network.

“The IoT devices of the future won’t go online to benefit you — you won’t even know that it’s an IoT device,” says Hyppönen.

“And you won’t be able to avoid this, you won’t be able to buy devices which aren’t IoT devices, you won’t be able to restrict access to the internet because they won’t be going online through your Wi-Fi. We can’t avoid it, it’s going to happen.”

Indeed, it’s already started, with devices you wouldn’t expect to need an internet connection — including children’s toys — being discovered to have gaping cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

These scenarios, says Darren Thomson, CTO & vice president of technology services at Symantec, are occurring because those in the technology industry are thinking about whether they could connect things to the internet, but aren’t thinking about whether they should.

“Could I attach my dog to the internet? Could I automate the process of ordering a taxi on my mobile phone? We’re obsessed with could we problems. That’s how we live our lives and careers, we invent things and we solve problems. We’re good at ‘Could we’,” he said, also speaking at Cloud Expo Europe.

No matter the reason why things are being connected to the internet, Thomson agrees with Hyppönen about what the end goal is: data collection.

“The connectivity of those devices is impressive and important. But what’s more important is how that’s coming to bare across various markets. Every single sector on the planet is in a race to digitise, to connect things. And very importantly, to collect data from those things,” he says.

However, various incidents have demonstrated how the Internet of Things is ripe with security vulnerabilities as vendors put profit and speed to market before anything else, with cybersecurity very low down the list of priorities.

Retrofitting updates via the use of patches might work for a PC, a laptop or even a smartphone, but there are huge swathes of devices — and even whole internet-connected industrial or urban facilities — for which being shutdown in order to install and update is impossible.

“The security industry to date is predicated on the benefit of the retrofit. IT has designed insecure systems then we’ve secured them. That’s kind of OK in a world where a device can have some downtime,” says Thomson.

“But a car, a building, a city, a pipeline, a nuclear power facility can’t tolerate downtime. So if we don’t build security and privacy in to our designs from the very first whiteboard, we’re going to leave ourselves with a problem.”

Not only that, but as IoT devices become more and more common, people will start to ignore them

“The reality of the human mind is as we embed things, we tend to forget about them, we get complacent about them. Many of you are probably wearing a smart device on your wrist to monitor your behaviour and exercise routines. But no doubt two weeks after you started wearing it, you forgot it was there,” he says.

“The danger from a psychological perspective is that people forget about that technology and forget about the risks associated with it and our own personal mitigation of that risk.”

Even now, consumers are too blasé about connected devices, keen to jump on the latest technological trends failing to realise the associated security risks. Then even if they do, they remain unclear on how to secure the IoT devices — that is, if there is the option of securing it in the first place.

“Nobody reads the manual, especially to page 85 where it says how to change the default credentials, or page 90 where it says how to set up user accounts and restrict access to the admin interface, or page 100 where it says how to segment your network,” says Hyppönen.

He likens it to the “exact same problem we had in the 80s” when people wouldn’t even bother to set a time on their video recorder as it involved picking up the manual, so it’d end up always flashing 12:00.

It’s therefore important for the Internet of Things cybersecurity loopholes to be shut sooner rather than later so as to avoid nightmare scenarios where hackers could exploit vulnerabilities to attack anything from pacemakers and other medical devices, to connected cars to even entire industrial facilities.

But are IoT device manufacturers going to do this anytime soon?
Probably not.

“The manufacturers of IoT devices are unlikely to fix this by themselves. They’re unlikely to start investing more money in their IoT devices for security because money is the most important thing in home appliances,” says Hyppönen

“When you buy a washing machine, price is the most important selling point. Nobody’s asking, ‘does it have a firewall or intrusion prevention systems?’ Cybersecurity isn’t a selling point for a washing machine, so why would manufacturers invest money in it?” he adds.

It might eventually be regulation which has to fix this problem; as Hyppönen points out, device safety is already regulated. “When you buy a washing machine, it must not short circuit and catch fire, we regulate that. Maybe we should regulate security,” he says.

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UK: Millions of smart meters may need replacing due to IT blunder; any solution will add hundreds of million pounds in costs

“We have a smart meter trilemma: if we don’t roll out smart meters we can be fined. If we do, we know we could be offering a sub-par consumer experience. And all the while we’re told by BEIS to never mention the costs.”

BEIS is the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

From the Telegraph

By Katie Morley, Consumer Affairs Editor
May 5, 2017

Millions of smart meters installed in British households under the Government’s flagship scheme may need to be replaced due to an IT bungle.

For the first time major energy suppliers have admitted that some of the 8 million “first generation” smart meters fitted in households are incompatible with a new national communications network, which links their systems to the devices.

A row has broken out after the government last night denied that the meters would need to be replaced.

Estimates show a worst case scenario in which every smart meter has to be replaced would add as much as £100 to every UK household’s energy bill, although sources said this was unlikely.

Meters not connected to the system “go dumb” when consumers switch energy suppliers to get a better deal, meaning they are no better than traditional meters as customers have to rely on estimated bills.

Under the Government’s £11bn smart meter programme every household in the UK will have been offered a device by 2020. Energy suppliers which do not comply face heavy fines.

Last night consumer experts described the smart meter roll-out as a “cock up” while sources at major energy firms admitted the cost was “spiralling” despite customers receiving “sub-par experiences”.

Until now the Government had presumed that the problem of “first generation” meters going dumb would be fixed as they could easily be connected to the system through simple computer programming.

But now it has emerged that many are incapable of being adapted to the central system, meaning they will have to be replaced.

It has also emerged that an unknown quantity of other meters may require expensive engineer visits to be brought onto the system.

To avert a potential multi-billion pound blow the operator behind the scheme is mulling various IT solutions. But even a programming overhaul would come at a cost of £500m, according to a consultation paper seen by the Daily Telegraph.

A year-long delay in the introduction of network, known as the Data Communications Company over “technical issues” also means millions more old-style smart meters than planned have been installed, further raising costs.

Speaking confidentially to this newspaper senior sources at major UK energy firms spoke out about the scheme’s failure.

A senior source at one major energy supplier said: “We have a smart meter trilemma: if we don’t roll out smart meters we can be fined. If we do, we know we could be offering a sub-par consumer experience. And all the while we’re told by BEIS to never mention the costs.”

An executive at another large provider said: “Some homes will need to have a new meter installed. Whatever solution we find is going to add huge costs on top of the £11bn estimate. We’re talking hundred of millions of pounds to fix this mess.

Speaking to this newspaper in March, Smart Energy GB, which promotes smart meters in the UK, denied that any first generation meters would need to be replaced and suggested they would easily be able to be “enrolled” onto the network.

A Data Communications Company spokesperson said: “DCC was granted a licence by the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) to build and integrate a national telecommunications network for SMETS 2 meters. This highly advanced national network went live after rigorous testing at the end of 2016 and DCC is now consulting on enabling the first wave of smart meters (SMETS1) to access the benefits of the new national network.”

Martin Lewis, founder of, said: “The rollout of smart meters has been a cock up and a catastrophe. Energy firms are now using it as a soft form of trapping people into poor deals as they can’t switch providers without their meters going dumb.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “SMETS1 meters will not need to be replaced. The Data and Communications Company will enrol these meters into their system, so that they can work in smart mode when consumers switch suppliers.”

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Economist: The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

From the Economist

Regulating the internet giants: The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

The data economy demands a new approach to antitrust rules

May 6, 2017

A NEW commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up, as Standard Oil was in the early 20th century. This newspaper has argued against such drastic action in the past. Size alone is not a crime. The giants’ success has benefited consumers. Few want to live without Google’s search engine, Amazon’s one-day delivery or Facebook’s newsfeed. Nor do these firms raise the alarm when standard antitrust tests are applied. Far from gouging consumers, many of their services are free (users pay, in effect, by handing over yet more data). Take account of offline rivals, and their market shares look less worrying. And the emergence of upstarts like Snapchat suggests that new entrants can still make waves.

But there is cause for concern. Internet companies’ control of data gives them enormous power. Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the “data economy” (see Briefing). A new approach is needed.

Quantity has a quality all its own

What has changed? Smartphones and the internet have made data abundant, ubiquitous and far more valuable. Whether you are going for a run, watching TV or even just sitting in traffic, virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for the data distilleries. As devices from watches to cars connect to the internet, the volume is increasing: some estimate that a self-driving car will generate 100 gigabytes per second. Meanwhile, artificial-intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning extract more value from data. Algorithms can predict when a customer is ready to buy, a jet-engine needs servicing or a person is at risk of a disease. Industrial giants such as GE and Siemens now sell themselves as data firms.

This abundance of data changes the nature of competition. Technology giants have always benefited from network effects: the more users Facebook signs up, the more attractive signing up becomes for others. With data there are extra network effects. By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, generating even more data, and so on. The more data Tesla gathers from its self-driving cars, the better it can make them at driving themselves—part of the reason the firm, which sold only 25,000 cars in the first quarter, is now worth more than GM, which sold 2.3m. Vast pools of data can thus act as protective moats.

Access to data also protects companies from rivals in another way. The case for being sanguine about competition in the tech industry rests on the potential for incumbents to be blindsided by a startup in a garage or an unexpected technological shift. But both are less likely in the data age. The giants’ surveillance systems span the entire economy: Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy. They own app stores and operating systems, and rent out computing power to startups. They have a “God’s eye view” of activities in their own markets and beyond. They can see when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat. Many think Facebook’s $22bn purchase in 2014 of WhatsApp, a messaging app with fewer than 60 employees, falls into this category of “shoot-out acquisitions” that eliminate potential rivals. By providing barriers to entry and early-warning systems, data can stifle competition.

Who ya gonna call, trustbusters?

The nature of data makes the antitrust remedies of the past less useful. Breaking up a firm like Google into five Googlets would not stop network effects from reasserting themselves: in time, one of them would become dominant again. A radical rethink is required—and as the outlines of a new approach start to become apparent, two ideas stand out.

The first is that antitrust authorities need to move from the industrial era into the 21st century. When considering a merger, for example, they have traditionally used size to determine when to intervene. They now need to take into account the extent of firms’ data assets when assessing the impact of deals. The purchase price could also be a signal that an incumbent is buying a nascent threat. On these measures, Facebook’s willingness to pay so much for WhatsApp, which had no revenue to speak of, would have raised red flags. Trustbusters must also become more data-savvy in their analysis of market dynamics, for example by using simulations to hunt for algorithms colluding over prices or to determine how best to promote competition (see Free exchange).

The second principle is to loosen the grip that providers of online services have over data and give more control to those who supply them. More transparency would help: companies could be forced to reveal to consumers what information they hold and how much money they make from it. Governments could encourage the emergence of new services by opening up more of their own data vaults or managing crucial parts of the data economy as public infrastructure, as India does with its digital-identity system, Aadhaar. They could also mandate the sharing of certain kinds of data, with users’ consent—an approach Europe is taking in financial services by requiring banks to make customers’ data accessible to third parties.

Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy. It will entail new risks: more data sharing, for instance, could threaten privacy. But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon.

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Technical University of Munich: Holography with the Wi-Fi-router

From the Technical University of Munich

Holography with the Wi-Fi-router

Analysis of Wi-Fi data generates 3D images of the vicinity

04.05.2017,  Research news

PDF of study

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a holographic imaging process that depicts the radiation of a Wi-Fi transmitter to generate three-dimensional images of the surrounding environment. Industrial facility operators could use this to track objects as they move through the production hall.

Just like peering through a window, holograms project a seemingly three-dimensional image. While optical holograms require elaborate laser technology, generating holograms with the microwave radiation of a Wi-Fi transmitter requires merely one fixed and one movable antenna, as Dr. Friedenmann Reinhard and Philipp Holl report in the current issue of the renowned scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

“Using this technology, we can generate a three-dimensional image of the space around the Wi-Fi transmitter, as if our eyes could see microwave radiation,” says Friedemann Reinhard, director of the Emmy Noether Research Group for Quantum Sensors at the Walter Schottky Institute of the TU Munich. The researchers envision fields of deployment especially in the domain of industry 4.0 – automated industrial facilities, in which localizing parts and devices is often difficult.


Processes that allow the localization of microwave radiation, even through walls, or in which changes in a signal pattern signify the presence of a person already exist. The novelty is that an entire space can be imaged via holographic processing of Wi-Fi or cell phone signals.

“Of course, this raises privacy questions. After all, to a certain degree even encrypted signals transmit an image of their surroundings to the outside world,” says the project leader, Friedemann Reinhard. “However, it is rather unlikely that this process will be used for the view into foreign bedrooms in the near future. For that, you would need to go around the building with a large antenna, which would hardly go unnoticed. There are simpler ways available.”


Hitherto, generating images from microwave radiation required special-purpose transmitters with large bandwidths. Using holographic data processing, the very small bandwidths of typical household Wi-Fi transmitters operating in the 2.4 and 5 gigahertz bands were sufficient for the researchers. Even Bluetooth and cell phone signals can be used. The wavelengths of these devices correspond to a spatial resolution of a few centimeters.

“Instead of a using a movable antenna, which measures the image point by point, one can use a larger number of antennas to obtain a video-like image frequency,” says Philipp Holl, who executed the experiments. “Future Wi-Fi frequencies, like the proposed 60 gigahertz IEEE 802.11 standard will allow resolutions down to the millimeter range.”


Well-known optical methods for image processing can also be deployed in Wi-Fi holography: One example is the dark-field methodology used in microscopy, which improves the recognition of weakly diffracting structures. A further process is white-light holography in which the researchers use the remaining small bandwidth of the Wi-Fi transmitter to eliminate noise from scattered radiation.

The concept of treating microwave holograms like optical images allows the microwave image to be combined with camera images. The additional information extracted from the microwave images can be embedded into the camera image of a smart phone, for example to trace a radio tag attached to a lost item.

But the scientists are just at the beginning of the technological development. For example, research on the transparency of specific materials is lacking. This knowledge would facilitate the development of paint or wall paper translucent to microwaves for privacy protection, while transparent materials could be deployed in factory halls to allow parts to be tracked.

The researchers hope that further advancement of the technology may aid in the recovery of victims buried under an avalanche or a collapsed building. While conventional methods only allow point localization of victims, holographic signal processing could provide a spatial representation of destroyed structures, allowing first responders to navigate around heavy objects and use cavities in the rubble to systematically elucidate the easiest approach to quickly reach victims.

The research was funded by the Emmy Noether Program of the German Research Foundation (DFB) and the TUM Junior Fellow Fund.


Philipp M. Holl and Friedemann Reinhard: Holography of Wi-fi Radiation.
Physical Review Letters, 05.05.2017 – DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.183901 PDF

Links: Presentation with embedded video of the simulation:


Dr. Friedemann Reinhard
Technical University of Munich
Walter Schottky Institute, E24
Am Coulombwall 4, 85748 Garching, Germany
Tel.: +49 89 289 12777 – e-mailweb

A cross made of aluminum foil between the viewer and the WLAN-router can easily be reconstructed from the WLAN-hologram as can be seen in the inserted picture (image: Friedemann Reinhard/Philipp Holl / TUM)A cross made of aluminum foil between the viewer and the WLAN-router can easily be reconstructed from the WLAN-hologram as can be seen in the inserted picture (image: Friedemann Reinhard/Philipp Holl / TUM)
Set-up of the WLAN-holography experiment (image: Friedemann Reinhard/Philipp Holl / TUM)Set-up of the WLAN-holography experiment (image: Friedemann Reinhard/Philipp Holl / TUM)
Simulation of a warehouse: from the "light" of the WLAN router in the basement, the three-dimensional image (right) can be reconstructed (image: Friedemann Reinhard/Philipp Holl / TUM)Simulation of a warehouse: from the “light” of the WLAN router in the basement, the three-dimensional image (right) can be reconstructed (image: Friedemann Reinhard/Philipp Holl / TUM)

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Wi-Fi holography can be used to “spy” on entire rooms and buildings

The IoT/Home Area Network of Smart appliances with reference antennas throughout the “smart” home including Wi-Fi, as well as the outdoor mesh network used by many Smart Meter systems, could provide this holographic surveillance capability indoors and outdoors. 5G will also provide it.

From New Atlas

By Eric Mack
May 6, 2017

We think of Wi-Fi as primarily bathing our homes and offices in a comfy, invisible blanket of data and internet access, but just as a blanket can take on the shapes of the bodies it covers, the microwave radiation sent out from a hotspot can be used to generate a three-dimensional image of the surrounding environment and the things and people in it.

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have come up with a process that creates a holographic image of a space from the microwave radiation of a Wi-Fi signal bouncing off people and objects. The scientists say their method could be used in automated industrial settings, to track objects moving through a facility, for example.

“Using this technology, we can generate a three-dimensional image of the space around the Wi-Fi transmitter, as if our eyes could see microwave radiation,” says Friedemann Reinhard, director of the Emmy Noether Research Group for Quantum Sensors at TU Munich.

We’ve seen similar approaches use Wi-Fi to see through walls, even distinguishing human figures on the other side and performing head countsof people in an open area. But the TU Munich scientists say they’ve gone a step further: using Wi-Fi and even cellular signals to image an entire space with holographic processing.

Simulation of a warehouse using the Wi-Fi imaging system (Credit: Friedemann Reinhard/Philipp Holl / TUM)

Reinhard concedes that this new ability to use Wi-Fi to essentially spy on entire rooms and buildings does raise questions of privacy.

“After all, to a certain degree even encrypted signals transmit an image of their surroundings to the outside world,” he says. “However, it is rather unlikely that this process will be used (to look) into foreign bedrooms in the near future. For that, you would need to go around the building with a large antenna, which would hardly go unnoticed.”

The holographic imaging system requires simply one fixed and one movable antenna, but researcher Philipp Holl says a larger number of antennas could replace the movable antenna for higher-resolution images closer to that of video.

“Future Wi-Fi frequencies, like the proposed 60 gigahertz IEEE 802.11standard will allow resolutions down to the millimeter range,” Holl adds.

Potential future applications for this “Wi-Fi vision” include embedding microwave image data into camera images, allowing for easy tracking of lost items. Imagine taking a photo of a room and being able to see in the image that a lost object is hidden under a piece of furniture, for example.

The researchers also hope that the technology could advance to be useful in rescue operations to help reach victims buried by an avalanche or a collapsed building. They also hope to learn about materials that are more translucent or transparent to microwaves to provide better privacy protection or allow for better tracking of equipment in factory floors.

The research was published in the most recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

Source: TU Munich

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