UW researchers pioneer a camera that can see around corners

Publish Date

From The Cap Times Aug 6, 2016 

A team of University of Wisconsin researchers have received a major grant from the Department of Defense to further develop a sophisticated piece of optical technology: A camera that can see around corners.

The idea behind the groundbreaking tech is that light particles from a bright flash can be collected by camera sensors and analyzed to visualize objects hidden from view. Through recent experiments at the UW, researchers have borne out the theory.

The team used a laser to fire a pulse of light at an angle toward a far wall, resulting in some of the light particles reflecting off the surface and bouncing across objects set up around a corner. Those particles eventually bounce all the way back to near the point of origin, where they're collected by a camera.

"The light comes back, like an echo essentially. And based on what that light looks like, you can reconstruct an object using a computer," said the imaging specialist Andreas Velten.

Velten, a researcher with the Computational Optics Group Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation and the Morgridge Research Institute, is largely responsible for pioneering the "scattered-light" imaging system. 

Velten's field specializes in using computer processing to take imaging beyond simple, visual recreations of what a person could otherwise be able to see — in other words, beyond photography in the traditional sense.

"We want to design imaging systems that allow us to capture information that's beyond the human eye," he said.


Read the story in The Cap Times . . .