Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, have developed a new camera that is able to do something previously thought impossible—see around corners to track hidden objects in real time.

The camera uses echo mapping, an established technique that is used to locate objects around a corner. While this has been used by other cameras, the fact that the new camera can do it in real time is what makes it so special.

"This could be incredibly helpful for [computer assisted] vehicles to avoid collisions around sharp turns ... or for emergency responders looking around blind corners in dangerous situations," said Genevieve Gariepy, co-lead researcher on the project.

Details about the new single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) camera were published in the journal Nature Photonics.

The compact non-line-of-sight laser-ranging technology system that was developed by Gariepy basically uses precise lasers along with the advanced camera module. This system is extremely sensitive—in fact, it's so sensitive that it can track individual photons of light. Of course, as mentioned, the superprecise system is also superfast.

Basically, the system releases short pulses of lasers aimed at the floor in front of a wall. That laser pulse bounces off the floor, hits the wall near it, and is then beamed around the room. As that light is bounced off objects in the room, it is bounced back to the camera, which, because of how sensitive it is, can detect all of these returning echoes. That laser, in fact, fires as many as 67 million times every second, offering a huge amount of information to the camera extremely quickly. This information can be used by the camera to calculate the size, shape, and position of different objects in the room.

In testing, the camera was able to detect a one-foot tall human figurine around even a hairpin corner, and detect multiple objects at the same time. It could also detect if there was movement since the object can be pinpointed to within a centimeter or two, and then frequent measurements would let it detect the speed of the object.

Check out the video below to see the camera in action.

Via: Digital Trends

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