Friday’s Food for Thought: Hedy Lamarr

The movie star’s legacy in radio frequency invention


Earlier this week, Google recognized Austrian Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr with one of its famous Doodle’s for her contributions to today’s modern technology. On Nov. 9, what would have been Lamarr’s 101st birthday, the animation paid tribute to her legacy as not only a 1940s film star but also as an inventor.

In partnership with composer George Antheil, Lamarr developed a “frequency hopping” technology, which was intended to help prevent German submarines from blocking radio signals during World War II. Though the patented technology was never used during World War II, it was successfully implemented during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

According to a Live Science article, Lamarr and Antheil were honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 1997 for their innovation, which led to the development of computer-based technologies such as cellphones, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Watch the Google Doodle animation to see the tribute to Lamarr.

Today, wireless Internet has gone far beyond its rudimentary beginnings. Recently, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory developed software using variations of Wi-Fi signals to recognize human silhouettes through walls, reports The Verge. The device, named RF-Capture, transmits wireless signals and analyzes the reflections of those signals to piece together a human form with 90 percent accuracy.

Photo Credit: Google Doodles

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