This camera helps you know what exactly is lurking behind the corner

It can be a pretty unsettling feeling, coming up to an intersection, not knowing what is around the corner. Or even worse when you don’t expect anything at all; that unknowing feeling can set you off. Fortunately now researchers from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, are working to have a shutter to be the only thing set off, giving you a accurate picture of what exactly is around that corner.

The camera they built works by capturing the timing/location of individual photons, which allows them to track objects moving out of sight. The only real thing this camera is dependent on is light. As the light is sent from the direction of the camera to a surface, light photons reflect from the surface traveling outwards and reflecting off any objects in the parameter.

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Think something along the lines of echolocation, a technique dolphins and bats use where they locate objects by sending out supersonic sounds and gauge proximity by time it takes for the reflected sound to return back to them. The camera is essentially doing the same thing but instead, graphing the area with lightwaves. This technology propels against previous models that took a longer time to capture reflected photons, making objects in motion virtually impossible to detect. With the camera’s current advancements and its ability to process all of the data (specifically 20 billion frames) coming in about a second, motion can finally be captured by an object not in sight.

The team aspires for their new camera technology to be used in disaster areas and danger zones, where the advantage of seeing around the corner could be deciding factor in life or death. The research team’s leader, Daniele Faccio, shares the they have already stretched the camera’s capabilities to several meters out and are working on how they can improve the 3D imaging to get a better physical representation of the hidden object.

Source and images: IFL Science

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