Surveillance cameras may soon be able to peer around corners, reconstructing images of things out of their direct line of sight.
With the help of an algorithmic trick, cameras can spot the light given off by a hidden object as it bounces off a wall and construct a shockingly-accurate depiction of it, according to research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
Even if there are obstructions between the object — the researchers used images displayed on a computer monitor — and the wall that the camera is scanning, the new algorithm was able to make sense of the patterns of light and reconstruct the image. In some cases, such an obstruction actually helped prevent the light from scattering too much.
Unlike past attempts to build tech that can “see” around corners, this new research doesn’t require anything more advanced than a typical digital camera equipped with the new algorithm. As such, the researchers suspect their technology may find its way into consumer technology or a smartphone app, Nature News reports.
“Admittedly, it has some fun ‘gee-whiz’ applications,” Boston University engineer Vivek Goyal, the research’s lead author, told Nature News, “and it probably has some creepy applications, too.”
The tech may also find its way into the hands of military or disaster-response teams, speculate the engineers in the research article.
Later stages of the algorithm could help spot hazards before they actually pose a threat without requiring those people to bring difficult technical setups into those areas.
READ MORE: How an ordinary camera can see around corners [Nature News]