Movement detection using a nearby mobile phone (MPMO)

Monday, 15 June 2015

The project revolves around a technology developed by the University of Ulster which is concerned with determining the location or activity of an individual over time inside a building where a mobile phone is used by the “tracker” but the person being tracked is device free. This can be achieved because the human body causes a noticeable distortion to the wireless medium (unless the environment is very “noisy”). The University has identified a unique (patent pending) mechanism to detect nearby movement through the use of mobile phones where software on the phone detects variations in the received signal power thereby allowing decisions to be made on whether a person(s) is moving in the vicinity of the mobile phone. 

Problem Being Solved

The project revolves around a technology developed by the University of Ulster which is concerned with determining the location or activity of an individual over time inside a building where a mobile phone is used by the “tracker” but the person being tracked is device free. This can be achieved because the human body causes a noticeable distortion to the wireless medium (unless the environment is very “noisy”). The University has identified a unique (patent pending) mechanism to detect nearby movement through the use of mobile phones where software on the phone detects variations in the received signal power thereby allowing decisions to be made on whether a person(s) is moving in the vicinity of the mobile phone. 

 

 

This opens up the possibility of a multitude of applications which use of knowledge that can determine if a person is moving in the vicinity.  The technique identifies movement without the need for the person to speak. Essentially, the new technology applies the principles of radio interference through the presence of a human, so that a nearby phone can actually track the movement of a person for all manner of alerts and subsequent actions.

 

Technology

There are a number of potential market opportunities for the new device free passive localisation using wireless networks technology. These include:

  • Security
  • Healthcare / Assisted living
  • Energy efficiency
  • Mobile Apps
  • Mobile Gaming
  • Location based services.

 

Benefits/Applications

Target market & potential customers

 

2.2.1 Security Forces

The technology to be developed by the university would seem to have a clear application for use by security forces for trying to detect movement inside a building without having to enter. One can imagine a number of possible scenarios – e.g. police may be following someone whom they suspect has entered a building, and movement detection from outside may help not only pinpoint the suspect but reduce the risk to police officers; or, police may be clearing an area because of a security alert (bomb threat, e.g.) and the motion detection may assist in determining that the buildings are clear.

 

There are currently no such systems available today and a preliminary conversation with an executive who works with technology issues with security forces confirmed that this was likely to be of major interest.

 

Another related area is that of the emergency services. Having a mobile phone capable of detecting movement within a hidden area would be useful for fire or ambulance workers in certain situations – a collapsed building where there are potentially people trapped would be one such application.

 

For these applications, it would be necessary for the technology to be extended so that it is fully capable of working with 3G networks as well as WI-FI. The university is currently working on this.

 

2.2.2 Healthcare / assisted living

Successful detection of motion and analysis for the purposes of monitoring the elderly or sick is in its infancy and there are few systems available commercially. Mobile wireless detection and monitoring systems could provide a low impact anonymous technology within future wireless communications infrastructure for monitoring areas for expected movement or any signs of presence or absence of elderly patients or carers.

 

2.3 Market Potential

 

2.3.1 Security and emergency services

The demand for electronic security products, over the past few years has increased dramatically. This is due to the increasing need to identify terrorists and criminals, economic growth worldwide, and rapid growth in sectors such as telecoms, ports, airports, aviation, railways, roads, energy, construction and retail. The overall electronic security market that includes intrusion alarm, access control, CCTV surveillance, including IP-solutions, fire alarm and evacuation systems, as well as security management systems, has witnessed consistent growth in the last 4-5 years, and are expected to continue to grow significantly.

The total global security technology market is currently valued at $200bn and is forecast to increase to $300bn by 2018 – which although not directly relevant to the small niche sector to which the technology applies, nevertheless gives an indication of the general growth in the overall security market which includes specialist technology applications.

 

Given the increasing costs of human personnel, the security industry is continually looking to technology not only to deliver new options for security, but also to do so at reasonable cost.

 

It is very difficult to predict the size of the world-wide market for the surveillance possibilities offered by the University of Ulster’s technology, given the nature of the market and the novelty of the technology. We have not been able to locate any analyst comment or predictions for this market – e.g. Gartner or Forester. What is clear, however, given the state of the world and the continued terrorist threats that exist, high tech security and surveillance products will still be in demand for the foreseeable future, and it is likely that there will be considerable demand for the university’s technology on a global basis from:

  • Police forces
  • Private security firms
  • The military
  • Government security agencies (Secret Intelligence Service, FBI, etc.).

 

This is likely to be a very large and global market which holds considerable potential for the new technology.

 

With respect to the emergency services market, it has not been possible during the narrow scope of this appraisal to determine a potential market size, but once again, the market would appear to be global and very large. Potential users of technology that would allow movement detection within buildings without having to enter would include:

  • Ambulance and emergency health-care aid services
  • Fire fighters
  • Disaster aid teams.

 

Clearly market research by the university as part of this project will be a key element for determining where are the most likely applications of the technology and where to have a market focus.

 

2.3.2 Healthcare / assisted living

Europe is witnessing an explosion of an ageing population, and this is posing a challenge for the policy makers in terms of social-security systems. Across European countries, the retirement age is rising, putting higher pressure on governments to provide the right living conditions for the elderly population to facilitate the population’s independent living. Along 

with the increase in life expectancy, there is an increase in the prevalence of mental and physical health ailments among the ageing population. This demographic shift in Europe paves the way for technological innovation to efficiently enhance the living conditions of the aged and physically impaired. 

 

All this is facilitated by broadband communications, networking capacity, integration of devices and services and other communication capabilities allow multimedia communications between homes and community centres. 

 

The Assisted Living Technology market in Europe is fragmented with skewed market competition and high growth  opportunity. The market was valued at $154.7 million in 2009 and is estimated to grow to  $525.7 million by 2015. This growth will be attributable to four major markets and these are, respectively, Germany, UK, France and Scandinavia.

 

The United Kingdom is one of the fastest growing markets in Europe for  ALT, as the importance and advantages of these technologies are already recognised by the Government. This has resulted in significant improvement in the adoption rate of ALT in healthcare. The market is expected to achieve revenues of $141.0 million in 2015. Comprehensive deployment of pilot projects and government funding (see later) and the elderly population growth are together the reasons behind this market growth, as the government recognises the need for such preventive care for the elderly. (Assisted Living Technology: A market and technology review by Life Sciences-Healthcare and the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology for the Microelectronics and Biomedical iNets March 2012).

 

As an example of the sort of investment that is taking place, in 2011, eleven UK universities and sixteen businesses received a total of nearly £9 million of government investment for research into the development of innovative, cost-effective, user friendly services for independent living

 

(http://www.sciencebusiness.net/news/74720/%C2%A39-million-for-UK-universities-and-small-businesses-to-develop-innovative-assisted-living-technologies).

 

Opportunity/Partnership Sought

The principal researcher for this project is Dr Kevin Curran BSc, a Reader in Computer Science at the University of Ulster and group leader for the Ambient Intelligence Research Group. His achievements include winning and managing UK & European Framework projects and Technology Transfer Schemes. Dr Curran has over 700 published works and is most well-known for his work on location positioning within indoor environments, pervasive computing and internet security.

 

To date Dr Curran has filed six invention disclosures and 4 UK patent filings, with two having been granted. Dr Curran has shown success in working with industry through InterTradelreland FUSION, Teaching Company (TCS), Knowledge Transfer (KTP) and TEl Support programmes, securing technology transfer schemes to the value of £650,000. This has resulted in being awarded a University of Ulster Fellowship for outstanding accomplishment in interactions with, and support of, business and social enterprise activities in 2010.

 

Dr Joan Condell is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and Mathematics in the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems at the University of Ulster, a fellow of the Centre of Higher Education and Practice and a core member of the Computer Science Research Institute. She is an active researcher in the area of image processing and intelligent systems, with over 150 peer-review papers. She has had five patents filed or submitted in areas of image processing and associated research. Since 2002 Dr Condell has been involved in a number of research, academic enterprise and teaching projects valued at £6m. In 2011 she was awarded the Distinguished Award for Leadership in Teaching and Learning Support. She has also previously won awards for academic enterprise work in the Hi-Tech category award at the Northern Ireland Science Park 25K competition. Dr Condell is the founder of Hidlnlmage - a recent spin-out from the University of Ulster (Magee) — which has recently secured £85,000 of funding.

 

 

Dr Gabriel Deak received his PhD from the University of Ulster in 2012. Prior to studying at the University of Ulster he was a software developer for a company in Romania. He is currently working as a software developer with Etain Software in Belfast.