Researchers at the University of Bonn have developed a camera that can image objects around blind corners without the use of mirrors or telescoping lenses.
Cameras are simply amazing. The ability to capture a moment and reflect on it well after the shutter’s blinked has transformed our memories, our vision of the world and many other aspects of life. While cameras have been able to refocus the way we see the world, though, they’ve only ever been able to see what’s directly in front of their lens.
Today, that may be changing.
According to researchers at the University of Bonn, a newly developed camera could see objects around blind corners through the use of a single beam of laser light. Rather than allowing light to flood into its lens the new camera would collect the diffuse light of a laser bounced off a wall opposite its target. After enough laser light has been collected on the camera’s CCD, complex mathematical algorithms are used to determine how the laser light diffused and reconstruct those photonic paths to form an image of the hidden object.
“We are recording a kind of light echo, that is, time-resolved data, from which we can reconstruct the object," said computer science professor Matthias Hullin. "Part of the light has also come into contact with the unknown object and it thus brings valuable information with it about its shape and appearance."
Though the technological complexity of this new camera is quite low, cameras with adequate CCDs have been on the market for years. The mathematics behind this camera’s unique abilities are quite complex and are still a limiting factor in the camera’s abilities. "The accuracy of our method has its limits, of course," admits Prof. Hullin, as the Bonn camera’s current incarnation only produces rough outlines of its target. However, researchers are confident that as mathematical models and technical components become more sophisticated the camera’s ability to create a clear image will sharpen as well.
Image Courtesy of University of Bonn