What’s Lurking around the Corner? New Camera Can See around Corners in 3D.

By: | August 8th, 2014

Seeing Around Corners

Seeing Around Corners (Image Courtesy http://cameras.eps.hw.ac.uk/)

Hollywood movie producers be forewarned; you may soon lose “the element of surprise.” With advancing camera technology the suspense of monsters or murderers lurking around corners will soon be passé as everyone will have cameras on their smartphones to “see around corners.”

Time of Flight Photography

Researchers from the Creative Cameras Experimental Quantum Optics and Extreme Light teams at Heriot Watt University, the Optics Group from the University of Glascow, and the University of Edinburgh in the UK, recently presented a new type of camera capable of “seeing around corners” at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Light is composed of photons that travel at the speed of light (670 million miles per hour or 300 million m/s). Current cameras are not capable of capturing photons as they move. The Creative Cameras team has developed a new type of camera so sensitive it can capture individual photons and pulses of light that travel through the air.

New Technology Faster Than Ever

The camera was developed at the University of Edinburgh and includes an array of photon sensitive pixels each of which can capture single photons and be activated for just 67 pico seconds, about a billion times faster than a human blink.

As a result, a new phenomena called “light in flight” imaging captures light (photons) as they travel through air and bounce off objects.

How It Works

To see around a corner, the camera emits femtosecond laser bursts at a wall facing both the camera and the object hidden around the corner. The camera captures returning light and software reconstructs objects and people in 3D. In order to capture the returning light, the camera is programmed to keep its shutter closed until the pulse has had time to go around the corner and return to the camera, thus the name “time of flight” photography.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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