Israeli tech to ‘see’ through walls could aid in kidnap crisis

Camero-Tech’s system allows security personnel to peer into closed rooms, basements, or bunkers

A soldier uses the Camero-Tech system to 'see' through a wall. (photo credit: Courtesy)
A soldier uses the Camero-Tech system to 'see' through a wall. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The specific tactics and technology being used by the IDF to find three teens said kidnapped by Hamas are, of course, top secret. But it’s pretty likely that the army is making use of the technology developed by Israel’s Camero-Tech Ltd.

This technology can “see” through solid walls, providing soldiers with an “inside view” of closed rooms, bunkers, basements, and other  redoubts where the kidnappers are possibly holding the Israelis.

Camero’s through-the-wall imaging system uses ultra-wideband (UWB) radar to map the layout of an area that is blocked by brick, cinder blocks, rebar reinforced concrete, plaster drywall, wood, adobe, stone, and just about any other material — as thick as a meter or more.

The system shows the location of objects in a room, whether stationary or mobile, and can be deployed from as far as 20 meters away. Advanced algorithms translate the radar signals into 3D images, showing the relative positions of people inside a room and tracking them as they move around.

Although Camero-Tech’s system doesn’t show security forces the faces of the people in a room — it’s not a camera — it does display their position, in real-time at any specific moment, on a high-resolution 3D image map. To boot, a special “breath detection” technology allows the device to differentiate between static objects, such as furniture, and moving objects (assumed to be people).

Armed with this information, soldiers can better coordinate how to enter a room — making their attack more efficient and likely to succeed, by “reducing surprises, efficient use of resources and eventually saving lives,” according to Camero-Tech.

Applied to a hostage situation, security personnel are able to distinguish between those being held prisoners — the “breathing objects” that remain stationary (as indicated by the breath-detection component of the tech), who are most likely tied to a chair — and those who move around, who are probably the kidnappers.

A video distributed by Camero shows the system being used in precisely this scenario, but the company had no comment on whether its technology was being used by the Israel Defense Forces in the current kidnap situation.

Camero-Tech’s system is in use by law-enforcement and military forces around the world, and has already been part of numerous rescue missions, according to a company spokesperson. Last week, the company announced that it had won a tender for the supply of dozens of the systems to a major European country. Four other NATO countries have also tested the system and are expected to order the company’s products as well.

The company, based in Kfar Netter in central Israel, was founded in 2004; it launched its first product — the Camero Xaver 400 Sense Through The Wall (STTW) system — in 2009. Since then, the company has developed several other versions of the technology: the more advanced Xaver 800, which adds height detection; and a handheld device, which is easily portable by any soldier or police officer.

In addition, the system works with roofs: In 2013, the company released the Xaver AID (Airborne Imaging Drone), which can transmit a map of the goings-on inside a building, based on images taken from above.

According to company CEO, Amir Beeri: “The rapid succession of recent purchases of our systems positions the XAVER family as the leading solution in its field. To date, our systems have been successfully deployed in dozens of countries around the world, on 5 continents, and are being used on a daily basis to save lives. We continuously receive excellent feedback from the field, and expect to maintain our leading position based on our unique technology and unmatched customer service.”

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