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The Pentagon has put out a call for new technology that could give troops X-ray vision. The resulting gadget is meant to help military personnel prepare for unseen threats, such as assailants hidden behind barriers.
Imagine, for example, squad members patrolling a street in a deployed urban environment, and an armed assailant crouching behind a car or a concrete barrier, the announcement explains. Without the benefit of different vantage points (from the air, for example), the squad could be blind to the hidden threat.
Ideally, the Revolutionary Enhancement of Visibility by Exploiting Active Light-fields (REVEAL) system would fully tap photons, the elementary particles of light, which carry vast amounts of information not measured by the human eye or traditional photographic equipment, like cameras.
The bottom line is that todays sight-enhancing equipment doesnt cover all of the bases. Conventional optical imaging systems today largely limit themselves to the measurement of light intensity, providing two-dimensional renderings of three-dimensional scenes and ignoring significant amounts of additional information that may be carried by captured light.
But photons contain all of that an more. In addition to providing information about the presence of a living being (think: thermal imaging), photons also contain measurable data about radioactive energy and chemical threats. The REVEAL system, for example, could indicate the contents of an unknown package from a safe distance.
The project is a basic research effort and in the very early stages the type of hardware that may finally be developed is not yet clear, but the request aims for a concept that would use a single vantage point to reconstruct a 3-D image of an area.
But in the future, military troops or even rescue personnel in dangerous areas could have the ability to see the unseen.
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