See Through the Skin with Your Smartphone

Wei Lun Wang
October 31st 2015

X-ray eyes, the ability to see through things as seen in science fiction stories, have always been one of humans' fascinations. In the near future, it won’t be a dream anymore with this infrared smartphone camera.

A team of computer scientists and electronic engineers from Washington University and Microsoft has developed HyperCam, a mini-size and low-cost hyperspectral camera. HyperCam uses both visible light and near-infrared light to see underneath surfaces and capture unseen details that are not visible to the naked eye.

This type of camera, with a hyperspectral-imaging technique, is nowadays typically used in industrial applications, satellite imagery and energy monitoring systems. However, the high-cost of this technology has limited its application for industrial and commercial purposes only. In a paper presented at UbiComp 2015 Conference, the research team published a possible hardware solution that can largely cut down the price, and further produce a relatively simple and affordable hyperspectral smartphone camera for ordinary consumers.

Despite from a few remaining challenges, when this technology will be incorporated into our smartphones, it could be put to use in many different ways: from food safety and gesture recognition, to biometric uses. Just imagine the day in which we will be able to see through the peel of fruit and vegetables to check whether it’s fresh or rotten inside, or maybe check an art painting to verify whether it’s authentic or not. The "naked eye" of our smartphones will know it all!

Source: Motherboard. Image: University of Washington

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