Even if a cell phone is not used for calls, routine signals reflected off the carrier’s moving heart and lungs create a minute doppler shift which can be detected when the phone is stationary for only a few seconds. New Jersey Bell Labs engineers, headed by husband-and-wife Victor Lubecke and Olga Boric-Lubecke, say they have discovered that some microwaves transmitted by a cell phone antenna are reflected from moving internal organs back to the phone. The one hertz in a billion doppler effect is then easily measurable by monitoring and processing signals at the phone’s base station. For the system to work reliably, they say, cellular networks must stop treating the information as unwanted noise. That change could reportedly be accomplished through a simple software modification. By fine-tuning the system, the group believes even the strength of heartbeats could be detected.
In related news, the Digital Angel system is set to debut this weekend at a Harvard conference. Applied Digital Solutions’s subscriber tracking and monitoring device is a wireless system linked to the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) network. The system would provide much of the same information that the Bell Labs group says can be gathered from cell phones, but it is contained in a chip that can be hidden on a child’s body. Originally, the company intended to propose an implanted version but has since downplayed that possibility.