Wi-Fi Sensing: Realizing the Potential of WiFi Through Collaboration and Standards Development
By Taj Manku, CEO | June 14, 2020
Discovering new applications for existing technologies is the definition of innovation. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of because it opens the door to new ways of improving our quality of life, but we recognize it also comes with responsibility.
Here at Cognitive Systems, we’ve developed a solution called WiFi Motion that uses existing WiFi signals in the home to enable motion detection. Also referred to as WiFi Sensing, this technology already has numerous applications for service providers within the security, health care, enterprise and smart home markets. WiFi Motion’s capabilities are sure to expand as we work with partners and others in the space to uncover even more uses, but not without some necessary guardrails in place.
The need for a more complete set of standards
Current possibilities aside, WiFi Sensing technology won’t reach its full potential unless stakeholders work together to implement standards around its development. While there are currently adequate standards in place that cover the core functions of WiFi Motion, a more robust set is required to achieve new and more complex use cases. These standards will help others work with existing applications and also create new ones, while ensuring consistency across various platforms.
In the early stages of working on WiFi Motion, we found ourselves explaining WiFi Sensing to each new chip vendor we worked with. This simply wasn’t efficient or sustainable. Going forward, we need a universally recognized industry definition, and a defined set of API to be used as a guideline for anyone creating chips.
Finding the right partners to move WiFi Sensing forward
As one of the first companies to develop a commercially-viable solution using WiFi Sensing, we became aware of our responsibility to help shape the development of the wider technology. To make this happen, we knew we had to align ourselves with others working in the space. There is a lot of room for development, and even competition, in this space. It’s important that we all work together to realize the full potential of WiFi Sensing technology.
We identified the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) as an ideal partner to help raise awareness about WiFi Sensing, while also ensuring it is being explained accurately and consistently throughout the industry. The WBA’s mission is to enable collaboration among service providers, technology companies and organizations who want to drive seamless, interoperable service experiences via WiFi. This made them a natural fit.
Our next step was to establish a working group within the WBA. The NextGen Work Group is the first of its kind and works toward introducing and fostering the adoption of new WiFi applications. Part of the group’s work so far has included publishing the Wi-Fi Sensing Whitepaper, which outlines use cases and requirements for the technology to be utilized in home and enterprise environments. A goal of the whitepaper is to help other companies identify business opportunities or simply grow their revenue by enhancing their current offerings with WiFi Sensing. It also identifies gaps that need to be addressed to fully realize the potential of the technology in the broader industry.
Looking forward to a bright future
We’re proud to say that we’ve gotten the ball rolling on establishing a robust set of standards that will help WiFi Sensing move forward. Cognitive Systems senior engineer Chris Beg has been an integral player in aligning with the WBA, starting the NextGen Work Group and publishing the whitepaper. Last fall Chris presented to the Wireless Next Generation Standing Committee on the future of WiFi Sensing for service providers. Up next, Chris continues the conversation with key players by presenting at this summer’s Wireless Global Congress virtual event.
Ultimately, we’re looking to engage the software community and start coming together in an open source forum to explore what is possible. By strengthening the WiFi industry as a whole, we can all achieve great things together.