A woman walking through her home and being detected by Wi-Fi signals via a Wi-Fi Sensing network created by her security system panel, smart light bulb, and smart plug.
March 19, 2024

More Options with Wi-Fi Sensing for Client Devices

Traditionally, Wi-Fi Sensing was predominantly associated with access points (APs), notably routers, which served as central hubs for device connectivity. This fostered the belief that the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi Sensing depended on households with Wi-Fi Sensing enabled APs and internet service providers offering solutions like WiFi Motion.  

A pivotal advancement in Wi-Fi technology involves extending WiFi Motion support to client device chipsets. This breakthrough enables devices like smartphones and IoT gadgets to actively engage in WiFi Sensing, detecting motion and presence in a more intelligent environment. This expansion offers enhanced user experiences and opens up new possibilities in smart homes, security, healthcare, and other applications. Integrating WiFi Motion into client device chipsets promises a future where technology intuitively responds to users’ presence and movements, creating a more efficient and responsive connected ecosystem. 

Revolutionizing Wi-Fi Sensing

Traditional Wi-Fi Sensing, as exemplified by WiFi Motion, relies on the utilization of APs and connected devices as motion sensors within the same network ecosystem. Upon its initial introduction, Wi-Fi Sensing incorporated the software stack for motion sensing into service provider APs, typically through routers. A notable milestone in this evolution was the launch of Cognitive’s WiFi Motion software, which extended the capabilities to transform connected devices into motion sensors, thereby broadening the scope beyond just APs. However, the “core” of the Wi-Fi Sensing technology still lived on these APs, which then acted as central nodes in star configurations, with connected devices communicating back to the AP—a configuration reminiscent of spokes on a wheel. While this setup is effective, it’s important to recognize that APs aren’t the only deployment option for Wi-Fi Sensing. Furthermore, the collaboration with AP-equipped households and service providers has naturally focused the application of Wi-Fi Sensing solutions in specific domains.  

WiFi Motion’s expanded support for client devices offers a new alternative to the conventional role of APs. This integration empowers client devices, ranging from smart plugs to smart speakers, to collaboratively engage in motion detection, entirely independent of the AP. This opens avenues for advanced network setups, including mesh and daisy chain configurations, that enhance Wi-Fi Sensing networks and enable customers without access points to introduce innovative products utilizing Wi-Fi Sensing technology. 

Navigating the Wi-Fi Chip Terrain  

The foundation of Wi-Fi Sensing solutions hinges on a device’s chip capabilities to extract motion-sensing data in the form of channel state information (CSI). Specialized software is then employed to analyze and interpret this data effectively. To enable seamless integration of WiFi Motion with a chipset, manufacturers must incorporate motion-sensing capabilities into their chip designs from the outset. Without this deliberate integration, many chips may lack essential components required for precise motion detection, such as the ability to expose CSI for subsequent analysis. While some chips can be retrofitted for motion sensing through software updates, this often serves as a temporary solution rather than a permanent one. Additionally, client devices primarily communicate with APs and their chips may not be equipped to handle the processing demands necessary for motion sensing or direct peer-to-peer communication. To pave the way for new possibilities in Wi-Fi Sensing, it is crucial for chip manufacturers to acknowledge the significance of including motion-sensing specifications in the forthcoming iterations of their chipsets, much like their counterparts in the AP chipset market have successfully done. 

Integration and Enhancements

This new integration possibility, with WiFi Motion living on client devices, brings about its own set of intricacies. While APs boast robust operating systems primed for software integration, often Linux, client chips rely on streamlined systems. Hence, optimizing Wi-Fi Sensing software for these chips is paramount, necessitating efficient code structures that work within these constraints.  

In the development of our proprietary Wi-Fi Sensing software, WiFi Motion, we capitalized on our prior experience in crafting the R10 chip, streamlining the code efficiency to a level that enables it to operate seamlessly on an RTOS (Real-Time Operating System) platform. Integrating the WiFi Motion software into devices extends the scope of motion calculations beyond the conventional single beacon and sensor scenario. In this interconnected setup, these devices engage in mutual communication, assuming roles as both beacons and sensors, thereby generating a wealth of additional data points. In essence, enabling communication among client devices introduces redundancies that can significantly enhance motion detection accuracy. This technology thrives on an abundance of data points sourced from expanded links, meticulously uncovering micro-motion events that might have evaded detection in the past. 

New Opportunities with Client Devices

The main difference between AP versus client device approach with WiFi Motion lies in the location of the software. When evaluating applications across various industries, hardware providers need to determine if they have ownership or control over their end users’ access points if they are considering the integration of motion sensing capabilities. With the availability of WiFi Motion on client devices, a new market opportunity arises, presenting various potential revenue channels for companies beyond the telecommunications sector that seek to incorporate motion sensing capabilities. 

Expanding WiFi Motion’s availability to client devices offers a range of distinctive advantages that present a valuable opportunity for hardware providers aiming to establish a unique and differentiated position within their respective domains: 

  • Streamline Resource Allocation: Hardware providers looking to leverage motion sensing can streamline their expansion strategy by integrating WiFi Motion into existing Wi-Fi-connected devices. This software-based approach eliminates the need for significant investment in proprietary hardware, allowing providers to enhance services seamlessly through a straightforward software download. This efficient process enables them to focus on refining core products while expanding their service offerings. 
  • Enhanced Features: The competitive edge for device manufacturers lies in the access to rich data provided by WiFi Motion. This data allows manufacturers to offer enhanced services, leveraging a deeper understanding of motion dynamics and timing within specific environments. Manufacturers can utilize this information to provide additional data points, reducing false alarms, or integrate WiFi Motion as a unique feature, contributing to a more comprehensive home awareness. This not only sets them apart but also encourages customer engagement with their app. 
  • Independence: Housing the WiFi Motion software on client devices allows for heightened autonomy and expanded choices for device manufacturers in shaping their business strategies, sales approaches, and strategic partnerships. This flexibility reduces reliance on negotiations with ISPs or AP providers for motion sensing integration. The choice between AP and client chip-based WiFi Motion enables providers to precisely cater to diverse customer needs, accommodating those seeking a more DIY approach. 

Enabling a Dynamic Wi-Fi Landscape

Expanding WiFi Motion to client devices is revolutionizing the future of Wi-Fi Sensing, opening doors for a broader spectrum of players to participate in this field. It transcends the limitations of solely relying on services from companies that provide access points. Now, any entity can access the valuable benefits of Wi-Fi Sensing without the need for pairing with a WiFi Motion-enabled router. Regardless of the router an end-user possesses, they can now offer motion detection through Wi-Fi using a variety of products, such as speakers, plugs, light switches, cameras, and more. This paradigm shift transforms Wi-Fi Sensing into a collaborative effort among client devices, with WiFi Motion at the forefront, utilizing software living on client devices to deliver advanced motion detection solutions for a wide range of applications. As Wi-Fi technology continues to advance, the potential for Wi-Fi Sensing’s growth and innovation remains boundless.