Scientists have engineered a technology that lets people read letters and see objects through walls using Wi-Fi signals.

The system, developed by researchers with UC Santa Barbara, traces the edges of objects on the other side of solid barriers, including English letters of the alphabet. In one experiment, for example, the team used the technology to decipher the word “BELIEVE” from the other side of a wall, with letters imaged one by one.

They used three off-the-shelf Wi-Fi transmitters to send wireless waves in an area. Receivers were mounted on an unmanned vehicle that emulated a Wi-Fi receiver grid as it moved. The receiver measured the signal power, which was then used for imaging based on the proposed approach.

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