The technology is described in a report today (Aug. 5, 2019) in the journal Nature. Once perfected, it could be used in a wide range of applications, from defense and disaster relief to manufacturing and medical imaging. The work has been funded largely by the military through the U.S. Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and by NASA, which envisions the technology as a potential way to peer inside hidden caves on the moon and Mars.
Technologies to achieve what scientists call "non-line-of-sight imaging" have been in development for years, but technical challenges have limited them to fuzzy pictures of simple scenes. Challenges that could be overcome by the new approach include imaging far more complex hidden scenes, seeing around multiple corners and taking video.
Sight - Imaging - While - Andreas - Velten
"This non-line-of sight imaging has been around for a while," says Andreas Velten, a professor of biostatistics and medical informatics in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the senior author of the new Nature study. "There have been a lot of different approaches to it."
The basic idea of non-line of-sight imaging, Velten says, revolves around the use of indirect, reflected light, a light echo of sorts, to capture images of a hidden scene. Photons from thousands of pulses of laser light are reflected off a wall or another surface to an obscured scene and the reflected, diffused light bounces back to sensors connected to a camera. The recaptured light particles or photons are then used to digitally reconstruct the hidden scene in three dimensions.
Pulses - Surface - Light - Scene - Velten
"We send light pulses to a surface and see the light coming back, and from that we can see what's in the hidden scene," Velten explains.
Recent work by other research groups has focused on improving the quality of scene regeneration under controlled conditions using small scenes with single objects. The...
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