April 23, 2012

Smartphones with X-ray Vision?

Four days ago, on the 20th of April, the University of Texas announced to the world that they have created a technology that will give smartphones the ability to see through walls, through the application of T-rays.
Of course, we know that cameras with see-through capability have been around for quite some time. Existing cameras with 'penetrating vision' detect infrared radiation which goes through cotton-based clothing.

So what does the aforementioned technology bring to the table?

Imagine the infrared technology we already have, vastly improved, minaturised and produced cheaply enough to make it usable for the everyday consumer, where it can help detect skin cancer and cracks through walls.

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"CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips,” Dr. O said. “The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects

To answer lingering questions in your mind:
1. What exactly are T-rays?

T-rays were discovered way back in the 1960s, and were pushed to the forefront of the scientific page in 2005. Terahertz radiation(T-rays) refers to electromagnetic waves propagating at frequencies between the infrared band and the microwave bend. Technically, they can still be classified as infrared rays.

Terahertz waves can pass through everything sans metal and water. It's usefulness as a communication tool is severely limited by it's relatively short range, since Earth's atmosphere absorbs most of it.

2. So... smartphones with X-ray vision, where can I get one?

As a matter of fact, the application of terahertz radiation is pretty common. This CMOS + T-rays combination is still new, and there will definitely be some kinks to iron out before the corporate world can commercialise the technology.

3. Can I use this to spy on peop- I mean, isn't this an invasion of privacy?

It could be. The researchers at the University of Texas claim that for privacy reasons, their research will only focus on a maximum length of 10 centimeters. Terahertz radiation itself has a very short range, but with the CMOS detectors, who knows?
The only thing that I can safely say (for now), is that there is no chance of you sneaking up on someone and... you know.
What do you mean, this isn't the Tray you're looking for?

Edit: Apparently people are only concerned about 'can it see through clothes?' Technically, yes, but the resultant images aren't viable for privacy invasion issues.

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