A Smartphone With X-ray Vision Like Superman: The Invention That Could Revolutionize Medicine and Industry

Researchers have developed a UWB chip imager that requires no camera or lens.

A smartphone with X-ray vision like Superman: The invention to revolutionize medicine and industry
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Researchers from the University of Texas and Seoul National University have developed a new technology with a curious purpose: to enable smartphones to see through walls. As eye-catching as it may be, this isn’t a technology for mass adoption.

Devices with this imager chip would focus on specific applications in the industrial, security, and even medical fields.

The device is an image generator capable of emitting signals in the millimeter wave band (mmWave), which is between microwaves and infrared. All experts need to implement this type of wave in a device is a square surface of just 0.5 mm, about the size of a grain of sand.

In this case, the technology would activate when users are about one inch from the object they want to scan. The goal is to protect privacy and prevent devices equipped with this technology from constantly tracking surfaces.

Why would we want a device with these kind of imaging capabilities? According to researchers, the goal is to perform high-resolution scanning of targets at very close range.

This technology could help detect objects inside packages, bags, and envelopes and find materials hidden behind certain surfaces. It could also potentially be used in medical settings, eliminating the need to use specialized equipment.

“This technology is like Superman’s X-ray vision. Of course, we use signals at 200 gigahertz to 400 gigahertz instead of X-rays, which can be harmful,” Kenneth K. O, director of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE), said. O is one of the researchers behind the new technology.
Imager chip inspired by Superman’s X-ray vision

The invention consists of a tiny chip capable of generating near-field images without needing an additional lens in the phone. This technology is an essential development in the field of camera-less surface scanning, as experts have never used mmWave technology before.

The most recent evidence for camera-less surface scanning comes from tests like those at the University of Santa Barbara, which demonstrated that it’s also possible via Wi-Fi. MIT experimented with cameras that detected information behind walls years ago, but those required lenses.

Image | University of Texas at Dallas

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