Cellphones that can see through walls likely possible in the future, researchers say

By on Apr 19, 2012 in Cellphone, Technology, United States Comments

There are two newly developed scientific advances that are being believed to have resulted to a technology that in the future can make cell phones see through walls, just like the superpower X-Ray vision of Superman.

TxACE director Dr. Kenneth O (left), with study
co-author and TxACE member Dae Yeon Kim

Image Credit: UTDallas.edu

According to a report by the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) posted on their official website on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, a team of their researchers led by Electrical Engineering professor Dr. Kenneth O has developed these processes.

As noted in the report, the researchers recently designed an imager chip that could turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper, among others and other objects.

Apparently, the first process involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum while the other is using a new microchip technology, with the work recently presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).

As an example, the study noted that radio waves for AM and FM signals, or microwaves used for cell phones or the infrared wavelength that makes night vision devices possible. However, the terahertz (THz) band of the electromagnetic spectrum, one of the wavelength ranges that fall between microwave and infrared, has not been accessible for most consumer devices.

“The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.” Dr. Kenneth O was quoted at UTDallas.edu; who is also the director of Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE), noting that the technology can also be used in the field of medicine.

Based on the new research, images can be created with signals operating in the terahertz (THz) range using this technology without having to use several lenses inside a device; which could also reduce overall size and cost.

Meanwhile, the findings of the second advance was said to be applicable for consumer devices, which involves the CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology used to create the microchip such as found in a lot of consumer electronic devices today including smart phones.

CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips. The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects.” Dr. O added, emphasizing that his team are focused on uses in the distance range of less than four inches due to privacy concerns.

The said study was conducted in the TxACE laboratory at UT Dallas and was funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the state through its Texas Emerging Technology Fund, Texas Instruments Inc., The UT System and UT Dallas.

Electromagnet spectrum (From radio waves to gamma rays)
Image Credit: UTDallas.edu/Mashable

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