Security Startup Cognitive Launches Wireless Visualization Platform

File under interesting start-up moves: Cognitive Systems has debuted a platform for the real-time visualizations of wireless signals, for securing both the wireless and physical world.

Cognitive’s platform detects motion using wireless signals, and identifies wireless devices connected to a user’s network. Applications built on the platform notify users when a device—authorized or unauthorized—connects to their network or when an untrusted network is broadcasting in their vicinity.

The platform, the first product release from the company, is based on Cognitive’s amera sensor and its underlying R10 chip. Both are the products of 18 months of development and design. amera detects the presence of wireless signals from cell towers, Wi-Fi base stations and rogue terminals, and then alerts users of potential threats to their cybersecurity to protect homes and offices from unauthorized devices. In that way, public spaces such as coffee shops, restaurants and airports can protect their customers from unknowingly using unsecure networks.

 “This technology will help businesses, organizations and consumers protect their data and devices from hackers who would take advantage of weak wireless security or set up dummy networks to snoop and steal private information,” said Taj Manku, co-founder at Cognitive. “While the technology behind amera is complex, it communicates information to users in an understandable form through a sleek sensor unit and applications that can be accessed via their smartphones or computers.” 

amera also senses motion in physical spaces by detecting small changes in the wireless signals it receives, even through walls and in the dark. Traditional motion sensors or security cameras leave gaps in coverage for intruders to slip through. Unlike cameras, amera does not record or decode video, so there is no sense of intrusion or threat of someone hacking into private footage.

The potential applications for the amera platform are varied and go beyond security. For instance, it could be used in emergency location services, like finding a skier in an avalanche or a lost child at a theme park. The platform can also be used to provide a picture of crowd movement and traffic flow, allowing optimized use of retail areas, airports, sports stadiums and other high density environments. A wider deployment of amera devices could also map wireless signals on a global scale in real time, maximizing spectrum efficiency.

“The vision that drove amera and the R10 chip was to build a platform that empowers people by giving them more information about their wireless environment,” said Hugh Hind, CEO of Cognitive. “Now we want to enable people with innovative visions to explore other beneficial uses of the platform. The opportunities are only as limited as our imaginations.”

The core technology powering amera is Cognitive’s R10 supercomputer chip, featuring four wireless receivers and highly-configurable dual multi-vector processors.

“The R10 chip functions like the human eye, only it can see invisible wireless signals that people cannot,” said Manku. “And the chip is much faster. It can respond to and report on signals in one-millionth of a second.”

Oleksiy Kravets, co-founder of Cognitive, elaborated: “Technically speaking, the R10 chip is engineered with three layers of design. The first layer contains a matrix of radios for sensing wireless signals, the second layer contains a grid of digital signal processing modules, and the third is the software used to configure silicon sub-systems and process the data.”

Cognitive’s vertically integrated system also includes a cloud computing network that will deliver the data that amera gathers to the user.

Photo © Filk 47

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