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Camera Can See Around Corners

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-place-to-hide dept.

Science 64

ananyo writes "Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge have created a camera that is able to record images of objects hidden behind walls. They fire a pulse of laser light at a wall on the far side of the hidden scene, and record the time at which the scattered light reaches a camera. Photons bounce off the wall onto the hidden object and back to the wall, scattering each time, before a small fraction eventually reaches the camera, each at a slightly different time. The camera captures this time-of-flight information and uses it to reconstruct an image of the hidden object (abstract)."

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Prior Art (2)

No, I am Spratacus! (2281684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431379)

Technology like this will make its way into first-person shooters! But really.. they should just get a wall-hack.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431569)

Wouldn't the prior art be LIDAR?

Re:Prior Art (2)

zerro (1820876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431583)

noclipping=1

Re:Prior Art (3, Funny)

JazzLad (935151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432135)

idspispopd ftw

Re:Prior Art (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39435117)

Wish I had some mod points for you good sir.

Re:Prior Art (2)

Nialin (570647) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431623)

Personally, I'd rather just see the technology improve so that the image is more accurate, which seems likely.

The 2 picosecond resolution is obviously the limitation here; just like that of a camera with a 240p resolution, or a low Frames Per Second. The faster a camera like this is able to collect reflected data, the better the overall quality.

Just think of the implications for photography and cinematography! Michael Bay would have a field day with this shit. And then someone with talent could actually make a good movie, too, but you know, whatever...

The future looks rather interesting, albeit vague, with this tech. And it's just around the corner.

/pun

Re:Prior Art (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432387)

The 2 picoseconds is not the limitation. The limitations are the requirement for the object to stand still long enough to collect enough photons for a decent picture and the requirement to have a correctly placed flat surface.

In essence they are compensating for the surface not being a good mirror by using the run time of the photons and calculations.
I guess in theory you could use curved surfaces as well, but you need to adjust the calculations accordingly. And even then you will have interference patterns because of the shape.

Without a known reflecting surface this will not work at all until you develop the technology to also scan the surface before using it as a reflector.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433481)

When you scan the laser across the surface for imaging, and record the response at each position, what do you think your camera sees first, before any of the indirect reflections? Oh, yes, the direct reflection from the surface, thus scanning the surface FOR FREE.

Don't be an idiot.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433609)

I should be more clear... they actually misalign the laser to avoid that primary reflection, presumably for dynamic range issues and/or to simplify image processing. But they split off and attenuate a secondary beam for that purpose, and subtracting the OPL difference is all you need.

Re:Prior Art (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432479)

Two picoseconds is pretty damned quick. The fastest my old SLR would go was 1/5000th, and it needed fast film and lots of light to get an acceptable picture at that speed. Movie cameras operate at 1/24th of a second. 1/16th for a 35mm still in low light, but you need a tripod and pretty sedentary objects to film.

I just don't see artistic uses for this, but I see lots of military uses.

It makes me think of the computer in "Blade Runner".

Re:Prior Art (2)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433369)

Movie cameras operate at 1/24th of a second.

Two things. Film movie cameras are quickly disappearing. I think I heard that the last manufacturer has stopped production. 2nd, film movie cameras may capture 24 frames per second, but that doesn't mean their exposure time is 1/24th of a second. It is significantly less.

Re:Prior Art (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439513)

Too much less and things won't move right; it will look jerky.

Re:Prior Art (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441107)

No it won't. Each frame is still 1/24 of a second apart in time. The object you are filming will have changed position by the same amount, regardless of how fast the shutter opens and closes.

The shutter is only open for some time less than the time between images, perhaps 1/100 or 1/500 of a second. It's probably not quite that fast, as I'd imagine that they use a fairly low speed film to get the best quality image.

Re:Prior Art (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450369)

The faster the shutter speed the less blurring. If an object moving on the screen doesn't blur between frames from one position to the next, it looks unnatural.

Re:Prior Art (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451569)

Think about what you just said, and then tell my why you're obviously wrong.

Re:Prior Art (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431781)

I didn't see anything about patents in TFS or TFA... So while the concept may have arisen before (in the aforementioned FPSs), but the concept of prior art doesn't really apply.

great, real-life wallhacks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431391)

great, real-life wallhacks!

That Headline (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431399)

Dumbest thing I've ever seen on the front page.

Re:That Headline (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431613)

Come on, it's sensationalist, but not as terrible as some.

Worst Story Title... (-1, Redundant)

PDoc (841773) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431417)

...evar.

But I still can't read behind walls (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431431)

I'd would be nice if there was a paywall warning.

Re:But I still can't read behind walls (1)

Chase Husky (1131573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432237)

Here's a link to the pre-published manuscript: http://web.mit.edu/~velten/www/corner/corner-prep.pdf [mit.edu] , a related manuscript: http://web.mit.edu/~velten/www/corner/arxivoe.pdf [mit.edu] , and a technical report: http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/67888 [mit.edu]

A camera that can see around corners? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431443)

So it has come to this.

Re:A camera that can see around corners? (1)

JazzLad (935151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432173)

Re:A camera that can see around corners? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432571)

So, you follow people around explaining jokes as they happen?

Re:A camera that can see around corners? (2)

JazzLad (935151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432829)

So, it has come to this.

Re:A camera that can see around corners? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432981)

Re:A camera that can see around corners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433147)

Dental plan.

Re:A camera that can see around corners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433329)

To this it has so come...

iPhone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431519)

The iPhone already has an app for this...

Nice to see cool new technology. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431553)

It makes me happy to see a new technology, that follows a basic principals that is easy to understand, and the only real reason why it never came up sooner was due to accuracy of the electronics.

This story looks familiar... (4, Funny)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431561)

Oh yeah, now I remember [slashdot.org] .

Re:This story looks familiar... (3, Funny)

Walking The Walk (1003312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432071)

Silly, that one was about a system at MIT that captured scatter at 2 x 10^-15 seconds resolution. This one is a system at MIT that captures at 2 x 10^-12 seconds resolution. Clearly they should be different stories on Slashdot.

Re:This story looks familiar... (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433913)

That's just the description of the camera they built. Now someone is publishing about something else they can do with it. If you spend all that time building a cool piece of equipment, you're going to have a small team of students writing as many related papers as possible. Not really surprised.

I too have created a device... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431591)

...that can see through walls. Requires no power, just a one time setup. I call it a "window".

Re:I too have created a device... (3, Funny)

KevReedUK (1066760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433103)

You dare to mention windows in this forum?

Re:I too have created a device... (2, Funny)

elgeeko.com (2472782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433519)

fanboy!

Mmm, paywall. (4, Insightful)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431721)

Article preview Read the full article Instant access to this article: US$32

$32 for an article? Just think, a minimum wage worker has to work for over 4 hours to get access to that.
Somehow, I doubt that article is worth it.

Re:Mmm, paywall. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431975)

It's the new form of piracy/copyright infringement prevention. Charge half of what it cost to write, then hope two people buy it.

Re:Mmm, paywall. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432153)

$32 for an article? Just think, a minimum wage worker has to work for over 4 hours to get access to that. Somehow, I doubt that article is worth it.

Or you could stop whining and spend part of that four hours looking for the paper. It's here. [mit.edu]

Re:Mmm, paywall. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432495)

$32 for an article? Just think, a minimum wage worker has to work for over 4 hours to get access to that. Somehow, I doubt that article is worth it.

A minimum wage worker could easily spend much more time trying to understand the math involved.

Re:Mmm, paywall. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432755)

A minimum wage work would likely spend it all on soda, tobacco, and named brand food products so they wouldn't be able to afford something like this anyways.

Re:Mmm, paywall. (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433297)

Today's minimum wage worker might be college educated and never will be able to pay off their student loans.

Re:Mmm, paywall. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432899)

If they want it that bad, they can just ask any student to get it for them. Every university in the world is going to have a subscription to Nature.

Re:Mmm, paywall. (4, Funny)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433033)

If only someone invented some sort of laser that would allow me to see behind this paywall...

Re:Mmm, paywall. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39448457)

Stop whining, here's the link to the full article.

http://web.mit.edu/~velten/www/corner/corner-prep.pdf

but can it be used for something useful (0)

nonewmsgs (1249950) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432083)

can it be used to remove clothing?

Meanwhile at DARPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432105)

...scientists are researching how to use scattered laser light to deconstruct a hidden object.

ooohh... (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432139)

How long until this can be miniaturized into a pair of glasses that I can wear outside of the women's locker room at the gym?

Re:ooohh... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432859)

Considering clothing is thinner than walls, why do you need a locker room?

Re:ooohh... (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433021)

Because it can't see THROUGH anything. It can see AROUND stuff, because it depends on scattered light from the subject. So much for trying to make a joke.

Re:ooohh... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433087)

Then it wouldn't work at the locker room either unless they don't have a door.

Re:ooohh... (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433291)

Yeah, many large gyms don't have doors on the locker rooms. They have a hallway with a U-shape.

Yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432177)

Don't bother me with tech like this untill it can give me highres images from the Woman's locker rooms :)

That won't work (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432185)

If there's no "mirror like" surface to scatter the photons!
Only Superman (and a few other super heroes) can see through walls, you insensitive clod!

It's not seeing around wall, it's using a mirror (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432227)

A very imperfect mirror, yes, but a mirror nonetheless.

I am pervert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432289)

The first application I thought of was for up-skirt shots.

Zoom. (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432423)

Enhance. [youtube.com]

Possible Limits (1)

calgar99 (856142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432429)

At least initially, I feel like that won't work unless you already know what the lack-of-object-around-corner returns are. In other words, if you haven't already taken a "picture" of this corner without someone or something in it, it won't do you any good. You won't be able to take a device with you to an unknown location and expect to see what's around the corner. And if you have time to set this up before something goes wrong, why not just put a camera around the corner? :)

great for in the office (1)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432623)

Because you never know when the boss is evesdropping.

parascope (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432835)

I think I made one of these in fourth grade using an old milk carton

sounds a bit like over the horizon radar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39437167)

This sounds a bit like over the horizon radar, with backscattering of images and all that. Radar is all line of sight too, but if you can get it to refract on the ionisphere, you can get long range information (1400-1500 km away). There are also creeping wave and surface wave radars that do similar things (Google it). Its not exactly measuring time of flight, but it is a reflected wave that is measured.

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