MIT created a camera that is capable of seeing through walls and capturing 3D images of what is on the other side.
When it comes to driving through fog or navigating dark areas during search-and-rescue missions, visible light is just not enough. But MIT’s camera uses radio waves that can penetrate through completely opaque objects to see what other cameras cannot.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, the images that the camera captures do not provide an exact replica of what is on the other side. It’s not like if you stand behind a wall, the camera will be able to deliver a perfect image of you. Rather, the camera is able to deliver a low-resolution, 3D image of whatever is on the other side.
The researchers are working on refining the technology so the camera can deliver more complete 3D images of what is behind the wall (such as the ability to see individual limbs). Currently, the camera is capable of delivering higher-resolution imaging (you can get a sense of the general shape of what’s behind the wall), all of the electronics visible within a 10” by 10” space, and better detection of mirror-like surfaces.
The camera’s technology could help with search-and-rescue missions when it may not be possible to use light or to assist driverless cars that struggle when it comes to fog or driving at night. But before the camera could serve a practical purpose, it would need to become significantly smaller.
Right now, the camera’s reflector is more than one meter wide and processing the image takes an hour. But the researchers are aware of ways they could shrink the camera down to a more manageable size, like shrinking its transmission wavelength to a millimetre wave (5 millimetres instead of the current microwave wavelength of 3 centimeters).
The camera works by capturing much larger wavelengths than a regular camera. Visible light has a wavelength of 390 nanometres to 700 nanometres, but MIT’s camera can see wavelengths between 2.5 and 4 centimeters. This allows the microwave camera to easily penetrate through drywall or plywood.
Check out how MIT’s Clark Kent-like camera works:
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