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New Microchip Could Allow For X-Ray Vision on Smartphones

Luis Enrique Ascui, Getty Images

X-ray vision. What was once a superpower you could only find in comic book may soon become a reality on future smartphones.

Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a new imaging chip that could allow smartphones to become miniature X-ray devices.

Portions of the electromagnetic spectrum are already used for consumer devices. For example, microwaves are used to cook food, broadcast radio uses AM and FM waves, and infrared waves are used for seeing in the dark. For their purposes, the researchers used waves in the terahertz range.

“We’ve created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications,” O said. “The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.” The researchers’ approach reduces the size of the mechanics needed to create

images with terahertz waves. Combined with CMOS technology–which is used in a number of consumer devices such as digital cameras and camcorders, smartphones and HD TVs–a chip can be created that can “see” through solid objects.

The technology is small enough to be installed in most smartphones, and affordable enough to be offered to the public. In addition, the device will only have a range of roughly 4 inches, which should be short enough to quell any concerns over privacy. Personally, I’m looking forward to the day i can have X-ray vision in the palm of my hand.

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