While the concept of x-ray vision might seem relegated to the realm of science-fiction and superhero movies, researchers in Israel have come up with a device that can see around corners and through certain objects.
Ori Katz, Eran Small and Yaron Silberberg from the Weizmann Institute of Science have published a paper (PDF), which details a camera that uses natural light and off-the-shelf components such as standard CCD sensors to see around corners. As reported in Extreme Tech, the camera uses a spatial light modulator, which is an array of pixels that affects the phase of light that passes through it, depending on the electrical current in each pixel.
Because the camera works on the premise of scattered light, it's only able to see through objects that have some sort of translucent properties, such as glass or potentially even skin — so no brick walls just yet.
In their paper, the researchers state that this form of imaging has been sought after for a long time, "with important applications in deep tissue imaging. Although being the focus of numerous works, this goal was considered impractical until recently".
The ability to image through inhomogeneous media is extremely valuable in numerous applications, ranging from astronomic observation through the turbulent atmosphere to microscopic imaging in turbid tissues. Between these extremes exist various mundane tasks, such as looking at foggy scenes or peeking through shower curtains.