Phil Dunphy's dream becoming reality? Wi-Fi may soon be able to personalise our homes for us

Phil Dunphy, the superdad in smash-hit show Modern Family, would definitely approve of this (Vimeo)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In the future computers may be able to detect our presence in a property and personalise it to our needs - without us touching a button.

It sounds like something straight from the imagination of Modern Family's favourite technodreamer, Phil Dunphy. But it could soon be very real, thanks to a technology that's all around us today.

When WiFi signals are sent between router and computer, human bodies partially block the radio waves. The differences in their shape, size and gait create different patterns, according to a report published by arXiv.org.

Drawing on this phenomenon, scientists have built an algorithm that was almost 95% accurate at identifying two adults between a router and computer. When six people were involved, the accuracy slips to 89% - still very respectable.

Team member Bin Guo, from China's Northwestern Polytechnical University, said it should also work with children.

Eventually the system may even be capable of identifying household members and tailor their heating and lighting preferences, get a favourite playlist ready to play - or even turning on talkRADIO without you having to do it.