X-Ray Vision? There’s An App For That

Posted by · April 20, 2012 11:58 am

Okay, I lied. There isn’t an app that will let you see through walls—at least not yet. But according to new research out of the University of Texas at Dallas, X-ray vision may be standard issue on the next generation of smartphones. Thanks to a new imaging chip, phones will be able to peer through walls, wood, plastic, paper, and other opaque solids.

X-Ray visionThis news comes from a research team at the university’s Texas Analog Center of Excellence. Team lead and director Kenneth O reports that he and his fellow researchers were able to uncover an unexploited range of electromagnetic spectrum and microchip technology, enabling them to develop the exciting new X-ray chip.

“We’ve created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications,” O reported. “The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.”

Using the same technology employed in digital cameras, smartphones, HD TVs and similar gadgets—known as CMOS technology—the team was able to use its newfound spectrum and technology to create a chip that could literally see through solid surfaces.

“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,” he continued.

X-Ray Vision & Your Privacy

Now I know what you’re thinking. If smartphones are going to be able see through walls, what’s to keep that technology from falling into the wrong hands or from being used by the already-aggressive spy apparatus?

The answer: absolutely nothing.

Although the research team developing the chip has our privacy in mind—keeping the range less of vision below the four-inch level—to think that it’s going to stay that way once it goes public would be naïve to say the least. Surely there will be those—law enforcement and otherwise—who will pour resources into increasing that range to something a bit too close for comfort.

Once that happens, it is all but guaranteed that petitions will be signed, lawsuits filed, and legislation drafted to mitigate the more invasive uses of this new X-ray chip.

X-Ray Vision’s Not-So-Creepy Uses

In the meantime, however, let us consider the uses that this team of researchers actually has in mind for this notable advancement. Perhaps most notable are its potential contributions to the world of medicine. From cancer detection to air quality monitoring to disease diagnosis, their X-ray chip shows a lot of promise—especially given the bleak healthcare situation many people face on a daily basis.

On the do-it-yourself, home improvement side of things, the new chip will let homeowners see through walls to locate studs. Banks and financial institutions will be able to better detect the use of counterfeit currency. In general, quality standards stand to rise significantly assuming the chip is widely adopted.

Can you think of any other (beneficial) uses for X-ray technology on smartphones? Share your ideas, thoughts, and concerns in the comments below.

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