Google recently hinted at “Project Glass”, their augmented reality glasses. In case you missed it, Project Glass is essentially an Android you can wear with a heads-up display and motion gestures to navigate the GUI.
The prototype we’ve seen is an unobtrusive, side-mounted display, but we can envision the technology being someday embedded into more traditional-looking glasses — though the prototype doesn’t look all that bad.
But all that is “old news” that you’ve heard about before. What you might not have heard of is a new CMOS sensor that’s been developed in Texas.
In this context, a CMOS sensor is a Complementary metaloxidesemiconductor specifically designed for capturing light and converting it into a digital picture file. Pick your chin up off the floor! The technology isn’t new, you’ve got one of these newfangled CMOS doohickies inside your phone right now — maybe even two of them: it’s your digital camera.
At the University of Texas in Dallas, Dr. Kenneth O, a chaired professor of electrical engineering, and his team have come up with a CMOS chip that utilizes a range of the electromagnetic spectrum that hasn’t been used before. It can see “light” that exists somewhere between the infrared and microwave wavelengths, in the terahertz spectrum.
“We’ve created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications. The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.
“CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips. The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects.”
Yup, you read that correctly! Using this CMOS sensor you can see through stuff! Some examples of it’s use include being able to inspect the insides of walls (plumbing, electrical, structural, etc.), identify counterfeit money, and even scan for tumors inside the human body.
Let’s add an extra CMOS sensor to the Project Glass appliance (is that what we should call it?), and now you can wear your fancy new camera that can see through objects.
Wait a minute! Didn’t I see an ad for this kind of glasses in the back of a magazine when I was a kid?
Yes, that’s right! Using a terahertz-style CMOS sensor, one could theoretically see through clothing, and into bathroom and changing-room stalls. Since this technology exists in a CMOS sensor, saving the image (whether in a still picture or a video file) wouldn’t be difficult. The technology exists today.
Before you grab your pitchforks and torches, it’s not very likely that this technology will make its way into our phones, let alone a newfangled set of glasses. Not for a while anyway.
However, if it’s done in the name of “security” you could very well see a pair of these glasses being worn by law enforcement officials trying to “keep us safe” by seeing who might be carrying “weapons”. Then again, they might be checking out the bikini team that’s getting on the subway, too.