Researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have built a camera capable of seeing around corners and through certain objects, according to a report from ExtremeTech. Unlike a similar device recently demonstrated by MIT's Media Lab, which relied on specialized laser technology, this new camera uses off-the-shelf parts and natural light.
Designed by Ori Katz, Eran Small, and Yaron Silberberg, the camera takes scattered light and passes it through a device known as a spatial light modulator (SLM), using the different phases of each wave to extract a relatively clear image. Due to its reliance on scattered light, the camera can only see directly through objects that are already partially translucent, such as frosted glass or skin. When peering around corners, it uses light deflected from nearby objects, such as walls or open doors.
"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," write the researchers. "Between these extremes exist various mundane tasks such as looking at foggy scenes or peeking through shower curtains." It's good to see that they have their priorities straight.