Cellphones That Can See Through Walls?
Team Finds New Possibilities in Untapped Terahertz Range With Implications For a Host of Devices
Comic book hero superpowers may be one step closer to reality after the latest technological feats made by researchers at UT Dallas. They have designed an imager chip that could turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper and other objects.
The team’s research linked two scientific advances. One involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum. The other is a new microchip technology.
The electromagnetic spectrum characterizes wavelengths of energy. For example, radio waves for AM and FM signals, or microwaves used for cell phones or the infrared wavelength that makes night vision devices possible.
But the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, one of the wavelength ranges that falls between microwave and infrared, has not been accessible for most consumer devices.
“We’ve created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications,” said Dr. Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering at UT Dallas and director of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE). “The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all.”
Tapping the Terahertz Gap
Shown is the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves used for FM and AM signals, to infrared waves used for remote controls, to gamma rays that kill cancer cells. A team at UT Dallas is focusing on the "terahertz band," which has not been accessible for most consumer devices.
Using the new approach, images can be created with signals operating in the terahertz (THz) range without having to use several lenses inside a device. This could reduce overall size and cost.
The second advance that makes the findings applicable for consumer devices is the technology used to create the microchip. Chips manufactured using CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology form the basis of many consumer electronic devices used in daily life such as personal computers, smart phones, high definition TV and game consoles.
“CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips,” Dr. O said. “The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and a transmitter on the back of a cellphone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects.” Due to privacy concerns, Dr. O and his team are focused on uses in the distance range of less than four inches.
Consumer applications of such technology could range from finding studs in walls to authentication of important documents. Businesses could use it to detect counterfeit money. Manufacturing companies could apply it to process control. There are also more communication channels available in terahertz than the range currently used for wireless communication, so information could be more rapidly shared at this frequency.
Terahertz Chip Media Coverage
The Dallas Morning News: “Talking With UT-Dallas’ Dr. O About His X-Ray Cell Phone”
The Los Angeles Times: “X-Ray Vision Cell Phone”
PC Magazine: “UT Dallas Research Advances Could Lead to X-Ray Phones”
Popular Science: “Terahertz-Band Cell Phones Could See Through Walls”
USA Today: “Researchers Explore X-Ray Vision for Mobile Phones”
Terahertz can also be used for imaging to detect cancer tumors, diagnosing disease through breath analysis, and monitoring air toxicity.
“There are all kinds of things you could be able to do that we just haven’t yet thought about,” said Dr. O, holder of the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair.
The research was presented at the most recent International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). The team will work next to build an entire working imaging system based on the CMOS terahertz system.
Other authors of the paper include Ruonan Han and Yaming Zhang, former students of Professor O, Youngwan Kim and Dae Yeon Kim, TxACE members, and Hisashi Sam Shichijio, research professor at TxACE.
The work was supported by the Center for Circuit & System Solutions (C2S2 Center) and conducted in the TxACE laboratory at UT Dallas, which is funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the state through its Texas Emerging Technology Fund, Texas Instruments Inc., The UT System and UT Dallas.
Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4183, firstname.lastname@example.org
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, email@example.com.
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, firstname.lastname@example.org.
From UT Dallas@ https://www.utdallas.edu/news/2012/4/18-17231_New-Research-Could-Mean-Cellphones-That-Can-See-Th_article-wide.html?WT.mc_id=NewsHomePageCenterColumn
University of Texas researchers design chip allowing mobile devices to see through walls
By Madison Ruppert
As unbelievable as it sounds, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have created an imager chip for mobile devices which would turn an ordinary cell phone into something which can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper, skin and other objects.
Using the terahertz (THz) band of the electromagnetic spectrum, the wavelengths of which fall between the microwave and infrared bands, the chip could signify a revolution in the surveillance capabilities of mobile phones along with new chips like Broadcom’s BCM4752 which is capable of providing ultra-precise location data.
Combine this with citizen spying applications and the techniques which gently push people to conduct surveillance without them knowing what they’re actually doing, patents from Google which would allow them to collect the data from such chips and the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) new data center and you have the penultimate surveillance state.
The research team connected two separate advances in science: the mostly untapped terahertz frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum and cutting edge microchip technology.
For those who are unfamiliar or need a refresher, the electromagnetic spectrum makes up all wavelengths of electromagnetic energy from visible light to radio waves to microwaves to infrared to ultraviolet and everything in between.
Most consumer devices have yet to leverage the terahertz band, which means that this could be truly revolutionary technology, although some like myself might think that this revolution is not necessarily all that wonderful.
“We’ve created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications,” said Dr. Kenneth O, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Texas at Dallas as well as the director of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence.
“The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all,” he added, although I’m not quite sure how allowing cell phones to see through walls and thus erase what tiny shred of privacy we have left would benefit us all.
This technology would likely not even be as expensive as one might expect. This is because the new approach would allow images to be created with THz-range signals without the need for several lenses or other expensive equipment within the device.
This would not only reduce cost, but also size, making the technology something which we could realistically see in mobile phones in the future.
The University of Texas at Dallas press release notes that the techniques involved in the manufacturing of the microchip involved would also allow it to be applied to consumer devices.
Chips utilizing the Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology, which forms the basis of a great deal of consumer electronics like personal computers, mobile devices, high definition televisions, game consoles, etc. would make this technology even more affordable.
“CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips,” Dr. O said. “The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cell phone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects.”
Thankfully, Dr. O seems to be, at least to a certain extent, concerned with privacy. This is evidenced by his team focusing on uses in distances of four inches or less, although this does not mean, by any means, that this technology could not be used at a greater distance when it is undoubtedly used by the government and military.
Some of the more innocuous potential applications could range from turning an ordinary phone into a stud finder or document authentication platform or even a counterfeit currency detector.
Manufacturing companies could potentially use it in process control and with more communication channels available in the THz range compared to the range currently used for wireless communications, data could be more rapidly transferred than the currently utilized frequency ranges allow.
There are even potential applications in healthcare fields, according to researchers.
It is possible that this type of imaging technology could be used to detect cancerous tumors, breath analysis for disease diagnosis and even air toxicity monitoring applications.
“There are all kinds of things you could be able to do that we just haven’t yet thought about,” said Dr. O, who also currently holds the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair.
The research team’s next move will be to create an entire functioning imaging system which is based on the THz frequency range leveraging CMOS chip technology.
This research is being supported by the Center for Circuit and Systems Solutions (C2S2 Center) and carried out at the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE).
TxACE is funded by the Semiconducter Research Corporation (SRC), Texas Instruments Inc., and the state of Texas through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, the University of Texas system and the University of Texas at Dallas.
This research was presented at the most recent meeting of the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), according to Homeland Security News Wire.
While there are indeed some very promising, positive applications for this type of technology, there are also some grave concerns in terms of privacy, which is a commodity we are quickly losing in today’s Big Brother society.
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From EndtheLie.com - http://EndtheLie.com/2012/04/20/university-of-texas-researchers-design-chip-allowing-mobile-devices-to-see-through-walls/#ixzz1uGzKps6y
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