Amera visualizes wireless signals for home and cyber-security

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The Cognitive Amera device(Credit: Cognitive Systems)

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Imagine being able to use the proliferation of wireless signals that exists today for something more than social media posts and entertainment. That's what Cognitive Systems is doing with its Amera device. It detects wireless signals from a variety of sources like cell towers, Wi-Fi base stations and rogue signals, and turns them into cyber security alerts, crowd insights, and wireless network monitoring.

What Cognitive has created is an entire platform that works by seeing the wireless spectrum in a given space, detecting anomalies and changes in that space, and sending that information to a set of easy-to-use apps that allow the user to act accordingly. Those apps will be available for both iOS and Android devices, with other platforms available at some point in the future.

Cognitive first began working on the technology that comprises Amera 18 months ago. The end result included the development of its own supercomputer chip called R10, a cloud-based data analysis tool called Myst, and a smaller device called Fyrefly that extends Amera's "sight" through walls and into out-of-the-way corners.

The R10 is where all of the power sits. Inside is a complex arrangement of four wireless receivers, dual multi-vector processors and five custom CPU cores. It essentially takes the place of what would have been a hardware solution costing tens of thousand of dollars.

Given that the air is now full of wireless signals due to the proliferation of smartphones and smart devices, detecting changes in those signals by sheer movement through them isn't difficult to imagine. Consequently, Cognitive is touting security as a primary benefit of the Amera platform. That includes detecting intruders in your home or office, identifying unknown devices and potential hackers trying to piggyback on to personal or business Wi-Fi networks, and even monitoring the amount of RF radiation emitted by your wireless devices.

Cognitive says there's also a larger potential, with a network of Amera devices set up to detect crowd flow in malls, airports and sports venues. It's also powerful enough to help network operators monitor the health of their overall network, and detect changes to capacity, usage and service quality.

The company said Amera is expected to be available sometime in 2016, but it will initially be sold only through security companies which will act as resellers. Selling direct to consumers may not happen until later next year. The price has not yet been set, but it is expected to be in the hundreds of dollars.

Here's an overview that explains how the Amera platform works.

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