The next step will be building a working interactive system. Currently the team is researching the engineering challenges that arise when a user moves around in a less controlled environment than the ones in their experiments.
Matt Reynolds is an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke University who studies harnessing energy from environmental signals to power radio frequency identification tags.
One future challenge for the researchers, he said, will be training such an interactive electromagnetic field system to work consistently in many different types of buildings. However, he pointed out that the team has demonstrated the potential for interactivity without the need for special signal generation.
"In the academic literature it's called a signal of opportunity," Reynolds said. "These electromagnetic fields are everywhere in a home environment and in an office. Showing that they can be used for sensing is very exciting."