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Your next smartphone may be able to see through walls

Dan Graziano
April 20th, 2012 at 2:00 PM

A team of researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas, led by Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Kenneth O, have created a technology that could allow future smartphones and cameras to see through walls. The research brought together two scientific advances, one that involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum and another that deals with a new microchip technology. The terahertz band of the spectrum needed for this technology to function has not been accessible for most consumer devices, however the team is looking to change that.

“We’ve created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications,” said Dr. O. “The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.” Thanks to a new approach, images can be created in the terahertz band without using several lenses inside a device, instead requiring a single CMOS technology censor.

“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.” Due to privacy concerns, however, Dr. O and his team are focused on uses in the distance range of less than four inches.

The technology could be used for finding studs in walls, authenticating important documents and detecting counterfeit money. “There are all kinds of things you could be able to do that we just haven’t yet thought about,” Dr. O concluded.

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