See-through camera can image invisible objects

Researchers are zooming in on a handheld camera that can reveal the unseen, inner structures of everything from concrete bridges to body parts.

Reza Zoughi (right) work on their camera that uses millimeter and microwave signals. Missouri University of Science and Technology

Remember those X-ray glasses advertised in the back of comic books? Imagine a handheld camera that can reveal the unseen, inner structures of everything from concrete bridges to body parts.

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology under engineering professor Reza Zoughi have developed a patented device that can show the inner structures of objects in real time by using millimeter and microwave signals.

Potential applications include the detection of cancerous skin cells, termite damage to buildings, or concealed weapons at secure zones like airports.

The tech could also be used for finding "defects in thermal insulating materials that are found in spacecraft heat insulating foam and tiles, space habitat structures, aircraft radomes and composite-strengthened concrete bridge members," Zoughi was quoted as saying in a release.

The prototype camera has been in development for several years--check out the vid below, from 2009.

In its current form, objects have to be placed between a transmitter for the microwave radiation and a collector. It can run for several hours on a laptop-size battery.

The researchers are planning to upgrade it to a single unit that works more like a video camera, according to the university. It may eventually produce "real-time 3D or holographic images," Zoughi said.

That would be pretty nifty. Can X-ray glasses be far off?

 

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