Disney Research, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has developed new technology that can identify objects in real time based on the electromagnetic (EM) signals they emit. The technology, called EM-Sense, which can be embedded in a radio receiver (similar to a smartwatch), can detect, read and translate an object’s EM signals and look up what kind of object emits them as it goes through your body for accurate identification.

“EM-Sense can make the [Internet of Things] experience even richer by enabling people to get information or additional functionality simply by touching everyday objects," said the Vice President of Disney Research, Jessica Hodgins in the press statement released by the Carnegie Mellon University.

Context-Aware Technology

"We are now able to gain a greater contextual understanding of user activities by recognizing what objects they are interacting with," adds Alanson Sample, a research scientist at Disney Research, in the statement.  The technology could pave the way for the development of context-aware applications, including the advancement of wearable technology, where an EM-Sense enabled smartwatch can unlock devices automatically upon contact, boot up the news as users make coffee, or instantly start a timer as they hold an electric toothbrush.

Beyond opening doors to technology that can lend itself to everyday convenience, the system also marks a step forward in terms of creating new ways for people to interact with the world. "By extending the Internet to physical objects — what's being called the Internet of Things (IoT) — we are creating new ways for people to interact with the world around them," adds Hodgins.


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