Detecting out of sight objects, including concealed weapons

Published on
January 25, 2024

Generally, clear imaging relies on a direct line of sight between the object and the camera. However, if you point a laser at the ground in front of you, you will notice how the light scatters in all directions – including around corners, or, it might even hit an out-of-view object.

Researchers have developed a system using a camera that it can freeze light in motion. The speed of this camera gives it a crucial advantage over conventional cameras. It is so fast that it can record ‘when’ light arrives at its sensor, not just ‘where’. With this timing information, the camera can make images in very unconventional ways. No longer does an object have to be in the field of view to be in the picture. This camera can see an object hidden around a corner or make an image of something embedded within or behind a wall. Currently, researchers are able to detect objects 2 to 3 metres around a corner.

We have also created artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted imaging to help reveal concealed weapons for police and border security. As you can probably understand, the need to detect concealed knives and firearms is extremely important for many different situations, but particularly in airports, stadiums, nightclubs and schools. This type of crime tends to disproportionately threaten young and disadvantaged communities, while putting security personnel under increasing threat. While technologies do exist to identify concealed weapons and illegal items, these are typically quite expensive, and also operate at a single access point, which limits coverage and disrupts day-to-day business.  

This new approach combines information from sensors which produce a real-time detection system. Scanning specifically for dangerous items, the device can ignore other metal-based devices such as mobile phones and watches while giving an accurate location of where the concealed weapon is.



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