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First Look: Seeing Through Walls

MaXentric’s Detex Pro radar system can show you the inside of a room before you make entry.

David Griffith 2017 Headshot

The Detex Pro is a compact, ultra-wideband radar system that can show you how many people are behind a wall and whether they are moving.The Detex Pro is a compact, ultra-wideband radar system that can show you how many people are behind a wall and whether they are moving.Detex Pro

One of the most critical pieces of intelligence that law enforcement can have during an operation involving a residence or building is what’s going on behind the walls. Knowing how many people are in a room, knowing whether they are standing or sitting, and knowing whether they are holding something can save officer and civilian lives. But such information can be hard to come by. Which is why MaXentric developed the Detex Pro through-the-wall radar system.

MaXentric, makers of a variety of ultra-wideband radar solutions, started developing the Detex Pro about three years ago. MaXentric design engineer Amir Levine says the project was sparked by a federal government solicitation for a through-the-wall radar system for public safety on the 2020 list for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding. “We saw that and given our background we realized it wouldn’t be hard for us to pivot and develop this solution from the other projects we were working on,” Levine adds. Detex Pro was the result of that R&D.

The Detex Pro is a compact—6.55 inches long, 6.75 inches wide, and 3 inches deep—ultra-wideband radar system. It runs on a similar frequency to WiFi, which allows it to penetrate walls and reflect off of objects, including people, and send back information to a mobile device.

Officers can deploy Detex Pro very quickly. The system comes with a tripod that allows users to lean it against a wall, it can also be suspended on hooks that adhesively attach to the wall. The box is a WiFi router, so it can send the images from its scans to mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones.

“Once you place it against the wall, it takes one scan to show you where everything is, then over time anything that moves will pop up,” Levine says. “It can detect someone moving through the room or someone sitting on the couch and breathing. The small movements of breathing are enough for the radar to discriminate between the couch and the person.”

The Detex Pro has a battery life of 10 hours, and a WiFi range that allows officers to place the radar and surveil a room from a safe distance. Levine says the device can be monitored from as much as 300 feet away in a rural area, 200 feet in a suburban area, and as much as 65 feet in a building.

There are numerous public safety applications for the Detex Pro. For fire agencies, it can detect people in a smoke-filled room. For law enforcement, it can show how many people are in a room and where they are positioned during barricades, hostage rescue, warrant service operations, and more.

If the Detex Pro was larger and more powerful, it could give officers the ability to determine if the people on the other side of the wall are holding firearms, but the trade off would be expense, size, and difficulty of use. Loxie Gant, director of sales for Detex Pro, says the system was designed to be a user-friendly tool that is compact enough and affordable enough that law enforcement agencies can acquire it and use it.

The Detex Pro comes in a Pelican case that easily fits in a patrol vehicle. Gant says MaXentric is now taking orders for the system and offering an introductory discount. Each system sells for $15,000. “It’s our goal to make this available to as many officers as we can, so that they can save as many lives as possible,” she says.

(The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS S&T) is acknowledged as the sponsor of this product.)

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