Can the iPad 2's camera see through clothes?

This iPad 2 X-ray hack vid is blowing up all over the Internet, and while the science is sound, we're calling shenanigans.

We're seeing the above video spreading around the Internet, and while it's cool, and it's based on real science, we're calling an early April Fools' gag.

U.K. comedian, tech-head, and all-around good nerd Jason Bradbury is seen in the vid using a pair of cheap night vision goggles, cling wrap, and an iPad 2 's camera to take a revealing photo of himself--through his clothes.

The idea is based on an inadvertent side effect that some camcorders with low-light functions experienced about a decade ago. The cameras worked by emitting infrared light via special LEDs. The camera, when in "night vision" mode, would then record video in infrared instead of visible light. Some cameras, though, generated an "X-ray effect," allowing the viewer to see through the clothes of the person being videotaped.

This phenomenon was well documented and later-generation cameras were modified to exclude the "feature." While Bradbury's setup is more or less similar to the one employed by the first-generation naked-inducing cameras, we're not remotely convinced.

Sure, he's emitting infrared light at himself via a cheap pair of EyeClops night vision goggles. And he's got the optics right, wrapping the lens of the iPad's camera in a couple of layers of cling film to create a "filter" against visible light that would in effect amplify the infrared.

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And then his assistant takes a photo, which Bradbury shows off, revealing his svelte frame and Superman underoos.

But there's the problem: In the reveal, he's a little too excited, especially considering he mentions earlier in the video that he'd been doing experiments. Having figured out the best system, he should have expected that outcome, right?

In addition, we only see the photograph. The camera on the iPad 2 doesn't work any differently when taking a photo or showing a preview, so in theory we'd be able to see his half-naked form on the screen before the shot is taken, but we don't see the screen at all. Showing the screen instead of just the "after" photo would go a lot farther in making this believable than just showing a probably Photoshopped image.

In fact, during the moment when he hands the iPad over to his assistant, his hand blocks the camera. We'll give them credit for thinking of that, though.

So while this would be cool, and while we don't want to discourage anyone from picking up a pair of night vision goggles, we're calling this one "busted," as the great Adam and Jamie would say. Besides, there are better ways to get X-rays .

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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