‘X-ray vision’ chip lets you 'see through walls’ via phone

‘X-ray vision’ chip lets you ‘see through walls’ via phone

/ 08:59 AM June 20, 2024

Have you ever wanted Superman’s X-ray vision powers? University of Texas at Dallas researchers created an imaging chip that lets your phone “see” through walls. 

It works like the security scanners you see in Philippine train stations and airports. However, this computer chip sets itself apart with its compact size, letting it fit into nearly all mobile devices. 

READ: World’s most powerful X-ray laser fired recently

More importantly, it uses signals at a frequency that’s safe for humans. This technology has numerous potential applications, such as letting you check delivery packages before opening them. 


How does the X-ray vision chip work?

Texas-based innovation news website Dallas Innovates shared more details regarding this technology. It said the device emits 300-GHz signals that pass through walls before bouncing off solid objects on the other side. 

The X-ray vision chip interprets those reflected signals and then converts them into images on a smartphone. Kenneth K. O, director of UTD’s Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE), led the research team behind this device. 

Another 2022 study from the University of Texas at Dallas has an earlier iteration of the chip for industrial applications. 

Dr. Wooyeol Choi, one of the researchers in Dr. O’s team, explained how they used that version as the basis for their imaging chip. 


“We designed the chip without lenses or optics so that it could fit into a mobile device,” said Dr. Choi.

“It took 15 years of research that improved pixel performance by 100 million times, combined with digital signal processing techniques, to make this imaging demonstration possible,” added Dr. Brian Ginsburg, director of RF/mmW and high-speed research at Texas Instrument’s Kilby Labs.


“This disruptive technology shows the potential capability of true THz imaging,” Dr. Ginsburg said. 

UTD said installing the X-ray vision chip into smartphones can have multiple applications. For example, it lets you check delivery packages without opening them.

That won’t damage the packaging, allowing you to return the item if it has defects. It could also help electricians look for faulty wiring without breaking walls. 

The university believes the imaging chip could also have medical applications. Even better, Dr. O designed the technology so that it only functions an inch from an object.

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That means thieves would have to be extremely close to someone to scan someone’s bag, making a potential victim aware of what they’re doing.

TOPICS: technology
TAGS: technology

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