Researchers at the University of Texas in Dallas have created an imaging chip that they claim could give mobile phones X-ray vision and allow them to see through walls.
The CMOS-based chip can detect frequencies in the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, without needing special lenses to work, the researchers explained.
“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,” said Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering at the university.
The professor predicted the technology could be used to find objects in walls or authenticate important documents by using watermarking technologies, although he also admitted the precise uses of the system was not yet clear.
“There are all kinds of things you could be able to do that we just haven’t yet thought about,” he said.
The Texas team has also limited the range at which their sensor can work to a distance of less than four inches, to mollify any privacy concerns.
V3 contacted the department to ask for more information on the project but had received no reply at the time of publication.
CMOS sensors are the essential building blocks of digital photography, turning photons of light in to signals that can be processed into an image.
Previously, CMOS sensors have been developed to work in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, including in the visible, infrared and ultra-violet regions.
Whether or not the research leads to any practical, real-world uses remains to be seen, though.
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