A  new device from an Israeli company is starting to draw attention: A handheld imager detects objects behind obstructions using low-power radio frequency in ranges that include those used by police speed guns.          

Vayyar Imaging Ltd. is the developer and marketer. In ancient Hebrew, “vayyar” means “to see,” according to Chairman and CEO Raviv Melamed. In May, the company began offering developer-kit versions of its hardware and software product, the Walabot. In August, the company introduced Walabot DIY, a $199 version that is optimized for finding objects hidden behind concrete or wallboard walls.

When ENR tested Walabot DIY, we found it to be a first-generation product in several respects but serviceable and delivering as promised. More significantly, in light of Walabot DIY’s programmable sensor and software developer kit, we think it opens up many possibilities.

Walabot DIY consists of a 15-antenna array that has a proprietary processor in a lightweight case that is the size of a Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone. That’s no accident: A glue-backed magnet attaches the device to the back of a phone and a link cable delivers its output to the screen via an Android app.

The interface lets users select the wall material and switch between viewing raw data and viewing “pipe mode,” in which the data is interpreted by the processor as tubular lines. It detects wood, wire, PVC pipe and even rodents and termites in real time.