MIT Researchers Invent X-Ray Radar System

By Oliver VanDervoort October 19, 2011

Since as long as there have been superheroes there have been people who would love to be able to see through walls. Now a research team from MIT has found a way to actually see around corners and through walls thanks to a brand new kind of radar system. Radar, too is something that has been around as a military application almost since the dawn of the 20th century, but most radar is designed to bounce back from any solid object, telling you the object exists.

Of course, with traditional radar you cannot see inside the plane that you have detected to see what it is carrying, or inside the facility you found in the dark. The inability to see beyond walls is because 99 percent of radar waves are blocked by something like a wall. Of that one percent that make it through, 99 percent of those cannot make the return trip. John Peabody and Gregory Charvat led the MIT research team who are experimenting with radar waves made of S-Band waves. The S-Band is similar in wavelength to a WiFi signal and of course a WiFi signal can indeed go through obstacles with ease. Of course, the drawback of WiFi signals is that they are fairly short. The MIT worked around this by adding a signal amplifier that allows the signal to penetrate the wall from as far away as 60 feet. 

The device the team created also includes an analog crystal filter that will actually remove the wall (usually the brightest image on radar) from the picture altogether, thus allowing a clear view of what’s beyond. The device is about eight and a half feet long, which means it isn’t the most mobile device in the world, but there are certainly real time applications. The MIT team believes their device would work perfectly attached to some sort of vehicle in an urban combat situation. The device provides real time video at 10.8 frames per second and can detect the slightest movement. The device will not detect items that are standing still, such as a table or other furniture. The frame rate and the ability to be as many as 60 feet away from the wall are both important. “If you’re in a high-risk combat situation, you don’t want one image every 20 minuytes, and you don’t want to have to stand right next to a potentially dangerous building,” Charvat said.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Contributing Writer

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